Santa Fe is one of those special places that exudes an unmistakable and unique charm and personality; a place where boots, jeans, long dresses and turquoise are the dominant dress code.  Art, culture, and cuisine are perhaps its strongest assets, inspiring the sophisticated and savory offerings from Rancho Encantado’s well-seasoned new chef.

Chef Autenrieth with invited guests. Photos by Ken Amorosano

When COWGIRL was invited to meet the new executive chef and visit the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, there was no hesitation. The resort is a southwestern sanctuary set among 57 acres at the foothills of the Sangre de Christo Mountains,  just a ten-minute drive from the Santa Fe Plaza. Casita guest rooms with spectacular views, kiva fireplaces and luxurious appointments are scattered among the piñon, juniper, and mountain grasses.  The central gathering place is a contemporary pueblo-style building which houses the lobby, bar, restaurant and meeting rooms.  Terra restaurant is anchored by a towering stacked stone fireplace and impressive horse painting.  From the dining room, guests can gaze upon endless valley vistas and stunning Santa Fe sunsets.

Chef Kai Autenrieth in his Terra dining room.

We were there to meet Kai Autenrieth, the property’s new executive chef, and experience his take on traditional New Mexican gastronomy. Autenrieth’s distinct global perspective and command of international flavor profiles is rooted in a 19-year culinary trajectory in such diverse locations as Tanzania, Saint Lucia, Australia, St. Maarten, Bermuda, the UK, and Nevis in the West Indies.

The evening began with hors d’oeuvres in the Terra Courtyard, where we were introduced to Chef Autenrieth, a slender and youthful looking culinary artist whose enthusiasm for his latest endeavor clearly shone forth.

Along with our hosts and counterparts from other invited publications, we noshed on sublime morsels of braised short ribs, a delectable lettuce-wrapped fish taco, and a braised lamb with curry.  After wine and an opportunity to get to know the chef and our fellow guests, it was off to the Terra Patio where we enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather and chef’s newest culinary creations.

Braised short rib hors d’oeuvres.

The first course was a delightful shrimp bisque and corn panna cotta paired with a Brut Rosé.  Then Gingerbread dust and Foie Gras paired with the Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc—simply to die for.

Gingerbread dust and foie gras with watercress-rainbow beet chili jam.

For the main course, Chef  Autenrieth’s beef  “Kisses” (Kurabuto pork with Chorizo Spätzle) with a Chateau Montelena Zinfandel delivered a mouth-watering amalgamation of flavors pairing old-world charm with a delectable hint of New Mexico via the Chimichurri accents. The Santa Fe painter palette desert, presented on a ceramic painters palette complete with chocolate paintbrushes was absolutely divine.

Chef Autenrieth’s beef Kisses: Kurabuto pork with chorizo spätzle, wild mushroom, baby spinach and carrot chimichurri.

As stars appeared, we were ushered to the bar’s outdoor fire pit where we wrapped up the evening visiting under the night sky and sampling a Gruyere cheese and white chocolate fondue, a nostalgic homage to chef’s childhood home in Germany.  Visit

Photos and story by Ken Amorosano