WOOT! Santa Fe represent! SantaCafé’s executive chef Fernando Ruiz won fame, glory and $10,000 this week on the Food Network’s Chopped show (he's second from the left). Here’s a great story about him in the Arizona Republic, connecting Ruiz and his passion for cooking to the time he spent in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County Tent City. "I cannot believe I won Chopped," he said as he reflected on his long journey. "Seventeen years ago I would have probably ended up in prison or dead. Now it's a totally different story,” Ruiz said when the judges revealed he’d won. GREAT STORY!

La Boca (72 W Marcy St.) is having a Sherry dinner this Saturday night. I hear you. You're like: "Sherry? That's for little old ladies to sip while darning socks!" No, no it is not. Campbell Caruso pairs six courses with six sherries from Lustau ($95). Check it out for a very cool introduction (or re-introduction) to this venerable Spanish wine that pairs incredibly well with La Boca's food (like this blood sausage with peaches on the right). Call 982-3433 for reservations.

Put this on your calendar: Buffalo Thunder is hosting a Margarita Festival Nov. 19 from noon-5 pm. Do you need to drink more margaritas? Yes, yes you do. Plus this is drinking for charity. My favorite. A $20 ticket includes tequila tastings, margarita sampling and food tastings. The Food Depot gets 25 percent of the ticket proceeds. Bring three 10-ounce cans of non-perishable food and you get a commemorative t-shirt.

Next week Sara Moulton is teaching some cooking classes at Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe. You know her from her PBS show Sara's Weeknight Meals, from her tenure at Good Morning America or her time at Gourmet Magazine. She's here promoting her most recent book, Sara Moulton's Home Cooking 101: How To Make Everything Taste Better. She'll be demonstrating a tomato paella soup, fusilli with Italian sausage and bananas Foster crepes on Friday, Nov. 11 from 6-8 pm ($80). On Saturday, Nov 12 from 10 am-noon she'll demo Korean chicken noodle soup, Greek omelet soufflé and the bananas Foster crepes ($80). After that class she'll sign copies of the book that you buy at Las Cosas. The signing is open to the public. Call 988-3394 to register for the classes.

There's a new Middle Eastern restaurant on Canyon Road. Milad Persian Bistro is scheduled to open to the public on Nov. 8 at 11 a.m. The location at 802 Canyon Road has hosted several other restaurants. Call (505) 303-3581 for more information.

Need a gift for the friend who's watching your dog for two weeks over the holiday? Or for the neighbor who brings your paper up to the porch when it rains unexpectedly? Or for the cousin who hosts Thanksgiving every year so you don't have to? Modern General is making some really cool gift buckets. I like the Craft Cocktail version, which comes with Mess Hall cocktail cherries, Dram Apothecary bitters, some bar tools and a choice of cocktail books ($90). The Foodie Bucket ($60) has spicy granola, Fool's Gold local honey, Cuvee Coffee, a jar of MG cinnamon turmeric paste (for making golden milk) and a bag of MG gluten-free ginger cookies. A fancier version of the bucket ($125) includes a pair of handmade mugs by local artist Douglas Hough. To place an order Call 204-8223 or email info@moderngeneralnm.com.

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