Cheryl Alters Jamison

Author Profile

Our love of food and travel brought us together nearly 25 years ago. No one was more surprised than us when it turned out we could make a living pursuing these twin passions.

We learned to love food through our grandparents initially, and began cooking the same way most home cooks do, through trial and more than a few errors in our own home kitchen. Neither of us has any professional culinary training or restaurant experience, and we never planned on a career in any kind of food-related work. We simply pursued a zest for good food and where it comes from and ended up passing along that knowledge in books, articles, and classes.

The Rancho de Chimayó Cookbook, our first culinary work, grew out of our early experience in travel writing. During the 1980s we wrote and regularly updated four travel guides, one about the Santa Fe area and three others on the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Mexico in Houghton Mifflin’s series on Best Places to Stay. Aware of these publications, a famous New Mexico restaurant, the Rancho de Chimayó, approached us about putting together a small book commemorating the institution’s 25th anniversary. We helped them develop written recipes for their traditional regional dishes and presented those along with the story of the restaurant and the historic village of Chimayó.

We loved the research, and the recipe development and testing, so we decided to supplement our travel writing with similar works. When our third cookbook, Smoke & Spice, won a James Beard Foundation Award in 1995, we shifted our priorities to focus more heavily on food. Since then, we’ve written ten additional cookbooks, several of which have also received awards from the Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. In 2008, with the publication of Around the World in 80 Dinners, we’re fusing both of our interests in a culinary adventure travel narrative.

Before we did any published writing, both of us worked in arts management. Bill also worked in the past as a professor of American history at Southwest Texas State University, a lecturer for the National Humanities Series, and a management consultant in London for British Airways and Honeywell. Cheryl has done extensive volunteer work throughout her life, having served as board president for both the Friends of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market and the local chapter of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. In 2007, she received the annual University of Illinois Distinguished Alumni award.

Cheryl grew up in Galesburg, Illinois, where she learned from her parents the joy of a perfect vine-ripened tomato and lettuce picked just before dinner. Bill’s family hails from the Texas Hill Country, an area devoted to barbecued brisket and spicy chiles, foods he still loves. We’ve lived most of the last 30 years in Tesuque, New Mexico, just outside of Santa Fe, in a converted adobe dairy barn shaded by fruit trees.  (


Cookbooks by Cheryl Alters Jamison