A good book has many chapters and Rene Mettler's story is undeniably a page turner. Renegade chef, artist, globetrotter, and all around badass Rene Mettler died on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 at the age of 73. The footprint left behind by Rene is deep and bright and electric. He lived uncompromisingly, with an infectious ability to extract joy from all the delicious elements of life; food, wine, good company, laughter, music and all things beautiful.
Born in Locarno, Switzerland, Rene grew up with his brother Werner and his sister Yvette. Rene could turn any story of hardship or challenge into a comedy. Stealing grapes from his neighbours orchard as a young boy to feed his family left us in stitches as he clamoured over the fence chased by the angry farmer wielding a shotgun, running for his life, grapes bouncing from the backpack basket, only to be sent out again by an equally angry mother. Rene left home at the age of 15. He dreamed of being a store window designer but found his natural home in the kitchen while training in the finest 5 star hotels of Europe. He lived under a bridge in London until he could afford a flat, as he moved up through the trenches of the Dorchester Hotel and did not miss a beat when the opportunity to work on the luxury ocean liner S.S Rotterdam arose. He traveled to all corners of the world… several times, his passport a colourful patchwork of pirate stories. Rene rested for a moment on the Virgin Island of St. Croix where he collided with an American firecracker, Windeah Lee Mccarthy. They moved to the United States and had one daughter, Melissa.
Rene's culinary legend begins here as the maestro of The Buck Hill Inn in the Pocono Mountains. Rene was old school. In a time before celebrity chefs, he ran his kitchens like a flamboyant general inspiring, mentoring and rearing up countless successful chefs. Rene was a perfectionist and his artistic spirit took the helm. The little Swiss egg cook went on to collect numerous awards during his colourful career. He was most proud of his 3 gold medals from the Culinary Olympics in Germany and an unprecedented Gold at the World Ice Carving championships in Japan, never presented to a non- Japanese.
Rene was charming. He adored the ladies and the ladies adored him. It was on the magical island of Maui where Rene met his match, Kimberly Armstrong. The whirlwind romance of a lifetime brought Rene and Kimberly to Taos where they opened The Trading Post Café in 1994. The Trading Post became wildly popular and remains a celebrated Taos institution. The fashion pioneer could often be seen holding up the end of the bar in a pair of lederhosen and a tight salmon pink cashmere sweater.
Anyone who knew him would agree; God threw away the mould after making Rene Mettler. He had a vibrancy and presence you wanted to bathe in. He was raw and passionate and brutally honest. He ran with the bulls and swam with the sharks and did it all with a glass of fantastic red wine in hand.