Chef Jenni Ford from The Love Apple in Taos has been nominated as a semifinalist for the Best Chef of the Southwest by the 2023 James Beard Awards. One of the most revered honors in the U.S. culinary industry, five New Mexican chefs are being recognized this year, a testament to the unique fine cuisine of our state.
Clearly, the word is out. Just recently, Guy Fieri blew through Taos, putting a few local eateries (Antonio’s, Gutiz, ACEQ and Aly’s cart) on the proverbial map by featuring them on his popular Food Network show, "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," but for Ford and The Love Apple, it doesn’t get better than this.
The Love Apple, founded by Jennifer Hart in 2008, is a low-key, charming farm-to-table restaurant housed in an old adobe building that was once the Placitas Chapel. The carefully-cultivated ambiance is all at once homey, chic and worldly. Anyone from anywhere would, and do, feel comfortable here. The space is the perfect foil for the deceptively simple fare, which is local, fresh and sophisticated — yet another reflection of the cosmopolitan and artsy clientele who come from far and wide. Reservations absolutely required. The interior of the space is small and intimate, the heated patio not much larger.
When the awards were first announced a little over a week ago, there was some confusion initially when the James Beard site had Andrea Meyer’s name listed, instead of Ford’s. But the fresh farm menu, dependent on locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients, indeed owes its origins to Meyer, who designed it before handing over the reins to Ford almost 15 years ago. The menu features New Mexican cuisine, with a classic bistro approach. Nothing too precious or unfamiliar. This is comfort food at its best.
“The Love Apple is a labor of love, dedication, focus, hard work and vision,” says owner Jennifer Hart.
"This year marks our 15th anniversary and, after everything we have created, we are honored to be considered a semifinalist.
"Our chef of 14 years, Jenni Ford, is a talented force of nature and is humbled and excited to be nominated for the Best Chef of the Southwest.”
The Love Apple has long been a destination spot for visitors in the know and a local favorite. Hart was the long-time manager at the legendary Joseph’s Table — she’s a graduate of Taos’ culinary finest. Trips to Europe — Paris, in particular —honed the already fine-tuned sensibility. She has the Midas Touch when it comes to creating places people want to eat at; Manzanita Market is a major hub in the heart of town.
Mayer’s managed the Farmer’s Market for a time, and has a broad knowledge of food, literally from the ground up.
Jenni Ford has built on that legacy; managing the kitchen efficiently, while turning out consistently great food night after night, while putting her own spin on whatever is available.
Finalists for the James Beard Awards will be announced on March 29, and the winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on June 5 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Learn more about The Love Apple at theloveapple.net.