This week Chef Chat pays a visit to Zia Diner where chef Peter Walsh opens up about about his affinity for Asian cuisine, his fearless attitude toward food and his devotion to children.---
Growing up in Dublin, Ireland, Walsh was inspired by his mother's hands-on approach to cooking. In particular, he was impressed by her ability to debone and prepare an entire chicken from scratch. Perhaps that's why Walsh is able to do so well with the basic, straight-forward dishes at Zia Diner.
It's not exactly a greasy spoon joint and it's not exactly a pub. Though, the contemporary style diner draws inspiration from both. Classics like shepherd's pie share the same menu space as blue corn enchiladas, and it's all prepared with obvious care and attention to detail.
SFR: In one word, how would you describe the Santa Fe food scene?
PW: Awesome. I think it's an incredible bunch of talented cooks and people in the food industry in a small population town.
What's the weirdest thing in your refrigerator at home?
Do you have an aversion to any particular foods?
No, not at all. I'm very open minded and always looking for a new challenge. The more unusual the better.
What's the coolest thing you've ever made?
A wedding cake. I made a 6-tiered wedding cake, and we baked it from scratch with a bunch of different fillings in each layer. We brought it to the wedding and assembled it on site.
What's the worst thing someone can do in your kitchen?
Say they don't like the dish. It's the biggest deflator, but you must move on.
Have you ever totally freaked out and/or lost your temper during service?
What takes the edge off after service?
A drink or my children, either one. I love to have a margarita made by my sister, the bar manager here at Zia Diner.
What's your death row meal?
I would say a beautifully cooked piece of elk from Geronimo. That sticks out to my tongue as one of my favorite meals to this day. Hopefully, with a margarita on the side.
What would you be doing if you weren't a chef?
I would love to be working with children, and maybe teaching them the culinary arts.
What's your second favorite restaurant in Santa Fe?
I go to Jinja because it leans into those Indian and Thai flavors that I like so much.
326 S Guadalupe St.