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The Spice of Life By Valerie Ashe A graduate of the Johnson & Wales culinary program in Rhode Island, Kate Wheeler’s early career took her to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, a US-based research center operated by the National Science Foundation, where her task was to prepare four meals a day for fourteen hundred researchers and staff workers using only frozen, canned, and dried food sources. “The requirements were to provide four thousand calories per day per person, because the conditions there are so severe,” Wheeler says. “The challenge was to make all that processed food taste good—and that’s where I really got into spices.” Fast-forward several years to a small storefront on Galisteo Street, Santa Fe, where Wheeler offers more than four hundred spice products, including 165 blends. Wheeler began her venture as a spice grinder with the Savory Spice Shop franchise in Denver in 2005. Over the years she grew with the business, and eventually fulfilled her vision to open her own store in Santa Fe after she and her husband Drew vacationed in The City Different several times. “We saw a hole in the market here, being such a ‘foodie’ town,” Wheeler says of Santa Fe. “If you live here, where do you get Mexican oregano or authentic Indian curry?” To fill this gap, Wheeler has become the local ambassador of faraway herbs, spices, and unique blends to the Santa Fe area and beyond, extending free shipping to all New Mexico customers. She is committed to unaltered flavor and medicinal quality in all of her wares; no product she carries contains additives or preservatives, and most are non-irradiated. While Wheeler uses some local ingredients such as New Mexico chiles and a few locally grown herbs in her blends, most of her products by nature are far from local. She is conscientious, however, about purchasing fair trade and organic ingredients whenever possible. “Most spices are grown organically, but they aren’t certified because certification is too expensive to the local farmers, who are usually in third world countries,” says Wheeler. Wheeler’s vision is to potentially open additional stores and provide local jobs. She leverages partnerships, community services, and events to get the word out about her store and to contribute to a growing local economy. Savory Spice Shop currently offers cooking classes, wine-pairing classes led by Santa Fe Spirits staff, and is active in the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce. “Most of all, I want our store to be a good, safe place for people to be—for our customers, our employees, and our community,” Wheeler says, just after sending off a local customer into the cold December afternoon with a warm cup of mulled cider and a hug. Savory Spice Shop Santa Fe, www.savoryspiceshop.com 225 Galisteo, Santa Fe, 505-819-5659

Valerie Ashe is a freelance writer and co-owner of Thunderhead Farms in Bosque Farms, New Mexico.

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Edible Santa Fe - Spring 2014  

Women and Food - The spring issue is a showcase of amazing women working in food and agriculture, from those defining local food distributio...

Edible Santa Fe - Spring 2014  

Women and Food - The spring issue is a showcase of amazing women working in food and agriculture, from those defining local food distributio...