Our Current Ambassadors

There are two ambassadors. The first is Rocky Durham from Santa Fe. Rocky Durham launched his career in London, England where he opened a restaurant named after his hometown, Santa Fe. Within three years of the first opening, there were Santa Fe restaurants in eight British cities. While living in England, Durham also wrote and presented two television series. The series were Plates from the States and South of the Border. After working professionally in five continents, Durham returned to New Mexico. He is currently an executive chef at the Blue Heron Restaurant at Sunrise Springs Spa Resort in Santa Fe.

The second ambassador is John C. Hartley from Las Cruces. John Hartley is currently serving as a college assistant professor in the New Mexico State University. School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management. There he teaches quantity foods courses and managing the school’s 100 West Cafe. Hartley was born and raised in Las Cruces and graduated from NMSU and the California Culinary Academy. Highlights of his career include cooking for President George H. W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. He also cooked for the Pope of the Armenian Catholic Church and numerous celebrities.

What is the Chef Ambassador Program?

The “NEW MEXICO- Taste the Tradition® Chef Ambassador” program features prominent New Mexico-based chefs that are interested in promoting New Mexico agricultural and locally grown and made food. Taste the Tradition® Chef Ambassador(s) will serve a two-year term involving advocating for and promoting New Mexico agriculture at events and speaking engagements.  The selected chef(s) , will not only gain recognition amongst peers, but amongst consumers as well.

To be considered, a chef must be someone who:

  • Is currently employed in the food service industry in New Mexico as a chef, sous chef, or pastry chef
  • Has been actively engaged and employed in the food service industry for a minimum of the past three consecutive years
  • Demonstrates leadership, creativity, and culinary excellence in their workplace
  • Exemplifies remarkable guest service, mentorship, and quality inside and outside the kitchen
  • Contributes to the advancement and prestige of the foodservice industry
  • Supports New Mexico agriculture by serving New Mexico agricultural products regularly in their restaurant (or is willing to commit to doing so)
  • Currently advocates for New Mexico agriculture, or is willing to do so, in an unbiased and positive manner
  • Is engaging during cooking demonstrations and special events as well as with the media
  • Can work in non-conventional settings (including the outdoors)