Chef Tony A. Blankenship is known for utilizing "natural ingredients" to prepare a "sophisticated casual" cuisine at the Rio Chama Steakhouse in Santa Fe.
Blankenship began his career as a 19 year old dishwasher in Illinois. He went on to cut his teeth in fine dining restaurants and casinos in the Florida Keys, New Orleans, and Nevada. After 13 years of in kitchen education across the country he enrolled at the Arizona Culinary Institute, where his newfound classical training enabled him to win the Scottsdale Culinary Festival student recipe competition.
After graduation Blankenship moved to New Mexico in 2001 and earned positions at Hotel Santa Fe and The Club at Las Campanas. He honed his talents for preparing contemporary dishes at the esteemed David Burke's Townhouse Kitchen in New York City, before returning home to join nationally celebrated Chef Charles Dale and Auberge Resorts in opening up the Encantado Resort. It was in this decade when his appreciation for authentic technique and culinary tradition flourished.
In 2014, Rio Chama management recruited Blankenship to revamp a new menu. With his team, he built a foundation from the rich traditions of local food, culture, and community, while adding his own flavors to create a festive atmosphere for all guests. "Our team is trying to make the best food possible, so people are happy to eat at the restaurant," Blankenship says.
At 47, Blankenship lives in Santa Fe with his wife, stepson, and daughter. He spends his free time racing in ultra cycling events and volunteering. In recent years, he co-founded Chefscapades, an annual cook-off event that raises money for the Interfaith Community Shelter.