Johnny Vee

ShowHouse 2018 Host Chef

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Local legend—of cooking, restaurants, food writing and just a legend in personality alone—John Vollertsen, aka Chef Johnny Vee, aka Mr. Fabulous, will be serving as the host for this year’s ShowHouse. Which is fitting because the theme for ShowHouse 2018 happens to be “A World of Taste,” wherein designers in and around Santa Fe will be partnering up with ShowHouse selected top chefs on their rooms for inspiration.

Despite being a ShowHouse virgin, Johnny Vee’s looking forward to hosting—and to whatever emerges from these novel collaborations. “I like the idea of a dinner plate as a chef's canvas,” says Johnny. “A lot of thought goes into designing a room as well as designing a dish.”

Born and raised in little ol’ Rochester, New York, Johnny Vee (a small-town boy with a very big personality—too big for upstate New York) soon lit out for the Big Apple, where he honed his culinary skills at such New York City firmaments as Greenstreet, Odeon and An American Place.

In the mid-80s he then lit out even further—for Sydney, Australia, where he oversaw the opening of an American-Style Restaurant and Cocktail Bar (which then led to a chain of six Southwestern-flavored restaurants, called Arizona Bar and Grill, throughout Australia and New Zealand).

Shortly after setting up the last of those six Arizona-themed restaurants, Johnny Vee then relocated to the real American West—here to Santa Fe.

He soon set up the successful series of cooking classes at Las Cosas Cooking Shop (in DeVargas Mall), and has been a mainstay there, and throughout Santa Fe, since. In addition to his classes (which ranged from New Mexican food to East African cuisine, pastas, desserts and Asian dishes), Johnny also conducts private cooking classes (for local residents like Shirley MacLaine). He’s also a writer (for Local Flavor, Edible), author of the immodestly titled Cooking with Johnny Vee: International Cuisine with a Modern Flair, and the food critic for the Santa Fean magazine, a proud longtime sponsor of this year’s ShowHouse.

He’s hoping that this year’s event raises even more money for Dollars4Schools. “I love that it benefits the schools here in Santa Fe,” says Johnny, “and that the Santa Fean is such a big supporter of the event.”

And if he were working with a designer? “I’d want to do a kitchen for sure!” he says. “And I would want a very cool mid-century design with lots of Jetsons features, where I would make crazy Jell-O molds and tuna noodle casseroles topped with potato chips!”