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Our Chefs

Noe Cano

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Noe Cano, Chef de Cuisine, is an invaluable asset to the School. He does all the food purchasing as well as prep and assisting with the classes. He has been at the School for 20 years.

Noe has worked at many of Santa Fe’s top restaurants including La Casa Sena, Coyote Cocina and was chef de cuisine at Hotel St. Francis. He has worked alongside many of the chefs of Santa Fe as well as some celebrity chefs.

He was instrumental in the production of a segment of The Food Networks show called Dinner Impossible, which celebrated the traditional foods of New Mexico.

Lois Ellen Frank

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A Santa Fe, New Mexico based Native American Chef, Native American foods historian, culinary anthropologist, James Beard Award winning author and photographer, Lois Ellen Frank’s first career experiences were as a professional cook and organic gardener. Ms. Frank has spent over 20 years documenting the foods and life ways of Native American communities throughout the Southwest writing and photographing many articles and papers on the topic. This lengthy immersion in Native American communities culminated in her book, Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations, which won the James Beard Award upon its release. In 2010 she released, The Taco Table, which won the Glyph Award upon its release.

She completed her PhD dissertation in May 2011in Culinary Anthropology entitled: The Discourse and Practice of Native American Cuisine, Native and Non-Native Chefs in Contemporary Southwest Kitchens, which she is planning to publish as an upcoming book, tentatively entitled, “The Turquoise Plate”. Frank partnered with PCRM to teach a series of cooking classes entitled Food for Life: Healthy Native American Cooking in both Santa Fe at the Institute of American Indian Arts, IAIA and Albuquerque at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, IPCC. She is a featured cooking instructor at the Santa Fe School of Cooking, an adjunct professor at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and the chef/owner of Red Mesa Cuisine with Diné chef Walter Whitewater. Frank is an avid gardener of local cultivated and wild plants.

Michelle Chavez

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Michelle Chavez brings 26 years of experience to the stoves of the Santa Fe School of Cooking. Her experience began in the San Francisco Bay Area at the age of 14 rolling pasta for a family friend. She eventually rose to the position of Sous Chef in an upscale Northern Italian Ristorante at the age of 21.

In 1996, she returned to her hometown of El Paso, TX and became Executive Chef of Café Central for 7 years. In 2003, she was the Chef De Cuisine for the Professional Golf Association Champions Dinner in Rochester, NY and has cooked for numerous notables including presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Vicente Fox of Mexico. She moved to Santa Fe in 2003 and co-owns a catering company called Coriander. In her spare time she windsurfs, snow skis, mountain bikes, gardens and mentors young chefs.

Allen Smith

Allen Smith, Certified Culinary Professional, brings an extensive culinary background to The Santa Fe School of Cooking. Allen has most recently returned from Dubai, UAE where he completed project management of a new style grocery market that included an interactive café and cooking studio.

He also completed the development of an exclusive Culinary Center, where he established the concept and professional curriculum. Prior to that, he was a Career Program Instructor at The Institute of Culinary Education in New York. He has extensive experience in food styling, recipe development and catering.

Deena Chafetz

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Deena Chafetz has been cooking professionally for 30 years. She first moved to Santa Fe in 1993 and fell in love with the flavors of New Mexico.

Trained in many world cuisines, including French, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Thai, it is the cuisines of Mexico and New Mexico that she loves the most. Her most recent restaurant position was the Executive Chef at Blind Tiger in Oakland, California.

Deena returned to Santa Fe in 2017, and is currently working as a private chef in addition to her work at the Santa Fe School of Cooking.

Patrick Mares

chef patrick mares
Patrick Mares is Santa Fe’s shining example of a local success story. Born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico and a graduate of a local culinary program he brings to the table depths of knowledge about local flavors, culinary history and New Mexico culture. Patrick has worked in many of the local fine dining establishments in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, including but not limited to, Sandiago’s at the Tram, The Old House, Bishops Lodge, The Inn of the Anasazi and The Red Sage. Patrick’s culinary passion is the fusion of formal culinary techniques with local and seasonal ingredients and flavors.

In addition to teaching at The Santa Fe School of Cooking, Patrick is also a full time Chef Instructor at his Alma Mater, the Santa Fe Community Collage. He loves working with the students and getting the opportunity to help shape and impart his knowledge and experience into the culinary potential of these bright individuals.