Chef Marc Quiñones: "A little Mas behind the Tapas”
Five years ago at a friends birthday dinner I was drowning myself in some of the most delicious pork belly I’ve ever had. I eventually took a second to breath and wipe the tears of joy from my face with just enough time to meet the infamous Chef Marc Quiñones during his time at Bien Shur restaurant at the Sandia Hotel and Casino. His passion for cooking entered the room minutes before he did and I could tell by his enthusiasm and love for food that we would become great friends. We bonded over pork belly and I instantly became a fan.
It wasn’t until his move to Executive Chef at Luminaria in Santa Fe that we had the opportunity to work together. I made room for Marc on the Taste of Santa Fe food tour and shortly after that we begin exposing our guests to the flavors of love and passion that Marc distributes through the heart of his cooking. Needless to say, our guests were elated! We have continued our friendship, stayed in contact regularly and I remain a huge fan.
Marc recently took the Executive Chef Position at Mas Tapas Y Vino, inside Hotel Andaluz and has continued to impress his guests with this passion and range of flavors. I personally love seeing him in a setting where he can have the freedom he needs to push the limits of what inspires him and because of this, I asked him to sit down and have a fun little interview. We all know the Chef that has appeared on several national cooking show competitions, billboards and is a social media rock star, but what I really wanted to know was what was behind it all.
Nick: We all know you are a family man, and we love you for it. Do you do all the cooking at home? What type of dishes does your family request?
Marc: My wife Lysa cooks the most amazing tortilla burgers on the planet, and she also makes really tasty lasagna. I also enjoy her pork chops but recently she made some barbecue ribs in the oven that were fantastic! She definitely steps up and throws down in the kitchen.
Nick: What do the kids ask for?
Marc: The kids just eat the same thing over and over again! Grilled cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese and chicken tenders.
Nick: We follow you on social media and love your “snacks” and preparation style. What is your favorite late night snack? And why is it your favorite?
Marc: My favorite late night snack is definitely polish kielbasa sausages that I slice and sauté in butter. Lots of butter. I eat that with either macaroni and cheese or I scramble some eggs and heat up a nice burnt tortilla. I tend to wash it down with a nice Arnold Palmer.
Nick: Until today, I didn’t know anyone else that loves burnt tortillas except for myself. Everybody thinks I’m crazy. So thank you for validating that. I appreciate it!
Nick: Out of your children, Truth, Journey and Elijah, who loves to cook the most? And what do they like to cook?
Marc: Truth has been on TV with me twice already and has helped me prepare dishes. He really enjoys cooking, for a 6 year old. He likes to cook whatever I’m cooking. If I’m frying chicken he’ll help me fry the chicken. He enjoys flipping eggs. Anything he can do to lend a helping hand. He’s all about it.
Nick: What is the most adventurous thing you have eaten? Who cooked it and where were you?
Marc: I would say the wackiest thing I’ve ever eaten would probably have to be Cajun style rattlesnake. It was rattle snake sautéed in Cajun butter with a buffalo style hot sauce. It wasn’t too bad. It tasted like chicken. It was prepared by a buddy of mine in Scottsdale Arizona.
Nick: If you could have any chef in the world cook for you, who would it be and why?
Marc: I would like to have Thomas Keller make me his fried chicken while I sat there and watched. Thomas Keller is one of the fore fathers of fine dining here in America yet he has made a name for himself with really fun, almost whimsical play on classics. I read his fried chicken recipe in his cookbook, and I’ve made it a couple of times, as well as trying it at one of his restaurants. It’s an iconic dish and when you think about an iconic chef like Thomas Keller making a classic dish like that, you just want to go ahead and try it.
Nick: If you could have any friend or family member cook for you, who would it be and why? What would they make?
Marc: It would be my mother. My mom makes Puerto Rican food that is just fantastic. It never gets old and it’s always full of love and flavor. You know, it puts you to sleep!
Nick: Other than your amazing restaurant, Mas tapas y vino, what is your favorite place to eat in Albuquerque?
Marc: That’s a loaded question. I don’t want to offend anyone but I’m going to keep it real with you. My favorite place is Franks Famous chicken and waffles. Made with love every time! It’s crispy, it’s hot and you can’t go wrong. I really enjoy eating my man, Frank’s food.
Nick: Have you ever considered opening your own restaurant? If so, where would it be and what would the concept be?
Marc: It definitely will happen in Albuquerque. I won’t talk about the concept at this time but it will be a restaurant for the people. People will be a part of it and that’s important.
Nick: Outside of the kitchen and home, what do you do for fun?
Marc: I really enjoy watching the Miami Dolphins play. Nobody knows this but I’m a big world politics buff. I also enjoy learning about aviation and spending time with my family.
Nick: Tell us one thing that nobody knows about the famous Marc Quiñones?
Marc: I am very well educated on world geography and politics. I read a lot about it, study it and enjoy discussing it.
Nick: When your guests leave your restaurant, what do you want them to be thinking?
Marc: I want them to leave feeling like they learned a bit about me, and my range of flavors. I want them to feel taken care of, warm, full and connected through my food.
Nick: When did you know that cooking was your passion? What age were you?
Marc: 8 years old. I’ve always been completely in love with food and cooking. Seeing mom and grandma with the joy of cooking, the freedom of it and how it brought together the family spilled on to me. They inspired me to cook from the heart.
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