Red Mesa Cuisine, LLC

Native American with a modern twist

Red Mesa’s mission is to bring Native American Cuisine into the contemporary Southwest kitchen and to help sustain traditional Native American foods, traditional Native agricultural food practices, as well as keeps alive ancestral culinary techniques from Native Communities all over the Americas. Chefs Lois Ellen Frank, Ph.D., (Kiowa), and Walter Whitewater (Diné/Navajo), cook contemporary American Indian foods using ancient techniques with ancestral ingredients, all with a contemporary flair that is delicious food art at its finest.

Red Mesa features a Culture and Cuisine experience for their patrons where guests are educated on the history of the foods they eat and how these Native American foods are gathered, grown, and harvested. Guests learn how these Native American ingredients have spread all over the world from the Americas. Today, these ingredients are woven into cuisine from all over the globe, and inseparable from those cuisine's identity.

Red Mesa has cooked for groups from all over the world. Chef Frank and chef Whitewater have also traveled as guest chefs, educators and lecturers to locations all over the United States and internationally to Guam, Ukraine, Italy, the United Kingdom and St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Culture and Cuisine series they offer includes an introductory lecture on the history of the Native American cuisine and the ancestral foods being prepared for their guests, their importance to Native Peoples, all followed by a delicious multi-course lunch or dinner. Guests learn about all the foods they eat while enjoying a find dining experience like no where else in the world.

The history talk and story telling are followed by an incredible and uniquely prepared meal by the two Native American chefs, with seasonally and locally purchased foods, many of which are supplied by Native American tribal nations who use ancient sustainable food practices. This practice supports community agricultural practices, food production of these sustainable foods, as well as guarantees the future of Native foods for generations to come. In many cases the purchasing of these foods revitalizes their food practices by creating economic incentives to keep producing and preparing the foods the chefs use in their meals. It also helps each community link health and wellness to these featured Native foods and ingredients.

Red Mesa works in Native American communities all over the Southwest teaching cooking classes to community members with its Native food for Life: Healthy Native American Ancestral Foods for Contemporary Health and Wellness cooking and lecture series featuring Native American plant based foods.

By using and purchasing traditional Native foods helps keep alive at risk food traditions and endangered traditional food ways from the tribal groups they purchase them from. A good example of this, is the tepary bean, saguaro syrup and cholla buds which are purchased from the Tohono O’odham Nation (TOCA) in Sells, Arizona. Tepary beans are a flood plain bean that the Tohono O’odham Nation has been growing and harvesting for centuries. Saguaro syrup is made from the giant saguaro cactus fruits, which are still hand gathered in the summer season. The fruits are harvest with long traditional poles up to 30 feet tall and then made into syrup. Cholla buds are hand harvested and then roasted and dried, reconstituted, sautéed and eaten as a vegetable. If you would like to know more or to order some of their products your self you can visit their website at It will give you insight into some of the products they offer and what we at Red Mesa Cuisine buy.

We also purchase hand harvested Ojibwe wild rice from a variety of Native communities in Minnesota. Mahnomin or wild rice grows naturally in the lakes and rivers of Northern Minnesota and is hand harvested and wood parched by tribal members using traditional methods.

Hand harvested wild Indian Tea (Thelesperma megapotamicum), Navajo Tea, or Cota as it is called in Spanish is also purchased from local gatherers. This wild plant has been gathered and prepared by tribes in the Southwest for centuries and was the preferred beverage in this area pre-contact.

We also purchase a hand harvested prickly pear syrup and a mesquite syrup and honey from Al & Jane Smoake, a couple in Southern New Mexico.

Some of the foods we prepare for our meals are hand gathered ourselves and prepared according to ancient traditions. We hand gather yucca blossoms in the Spring, wild edible greens including tumbleweed greens and purslane for salads, soups, stews, and as vegetables. Chefs Frank and Whitewater hand gather prickly pears once a year to make into sauces and syrups for a variety of their dishes. And chef Frank grows chokecherries, which she uses in her desserts. Dishes like prickly pear syrup, choke cherry sauce, farmer’s market peach sauce and the chocolate piñon torte are some of the dishes that feature the wild harvested fruits and berries.

Red Mesa Cuisine is the only catering company in the Santa Fe area preparing authentic Native American cuisine menus and foods. They buy ingredients from Indian Nations throughout the Americas. Each menu is specially and carefully prepared to cater to the needs of each group, whether the event is a group of friends gathered together in Santa Fe, a corporate group, an educational group, a tribal group, a wedding, or just people interested in learning about the traditional Native foods of this region. The culinary experience we provide is unlike anything else in New Mexico or the Southwest and the testimonials of our patrons prove this.