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The food is homemade and I feel like I’m eating (and conversing) in Ginger’s kitchen.

This is simple food lovingly prepared.” Alas, not everyone shared the same opinion with Yelp and Zomato critics casting dissenting opinions.

Laboring in the fast-paced kitchen environment went from judicially imposed community service to a career path Chef Sanchez wanted very much to pursue.

Not so with Chef Sanchez who not only makes it a point to check up on his guests, he prepares meals.

When we met him, he was toting heavy boxes of locally grown produce for use at Las Ristras, but the prospect of spending time with our debonair dachshund Dude lured him toward our table under a porch at the back of the restaurant.

At its onset, the featured fare at Las Ristras was New Mexican cuisine—most of the “usual suspects” with a few creative touches added for good measure.

Las Ristras made an impact on my friend Larry Mc Goldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate who gave it the “Mc Goldrick stamp of approval: “What I like about Las Ristras is that it is not a clone of the many dozens of cookie-cutter NM restaurants.

Chef Jim White, then at the helm of Corrales institution La Casa Vieja, convinced the judge to let the young rapscallion perform his community service at his restaurant.

The rest, as the proverbial “they,” say is history.

By year’s end, ownership of Las Ristras had transitioned to Chef Jude Sanchez, a Corrales native (and Cibola graduate) who had returned home after cutting a wide swath across some of the best kitchens in Chicago and New York.

One of the restaurants at which he worked even earned a Michelin star, a distinction accorded to very few restaurants.

Initially, Chef Sanchez was assigned to what the military terms as “kitchen police,” or “KP,” a punishment calling for washing and drying mountains of soiled dishes.

When the repentant teen proved himself adept at following instructions and performing quality work, Chef White taught him how to cut and peel vegetables, the next tasking to which he was assigned.

While a Michelin star for any restaurant in the Land of Enchantment may seem a fanciful hope, Chef Sanchez has very high aspirations for Las Ristras.

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