This month we are pleased to introduce Santa Fe native Rich Perea, a jewelry designer and foodie-turned-entrepreneur. We celebrate Rich for his resilience and creative entrepreneurship.
Rich developed his love for food after working in both the front and the back house at various local restaurants. Along the way, he discovered his knack for silversmithing and jewelry design. Rich ventured to Arizona in 2001, where he continued his silversmith training and started a career in the mortgage lending industry. He returned to Santa Fe in 2015 to care for his aging parents. Needing a flexible work schedule, Rich returned to the food industry and silversmithing.
In 2020, Rich lost his last living parent along with his job in the food industry and his jewelry sale outlet on the plaza due to the pandemic. Through these trials and tribulations, Rich was inspired to dish out joy into the world through the creation of his business, the Santa Fe Biscochito Company.
On most days, you can find Rich under his solar-powered food cart at the corner of Lincoln and Palace at the Santa Fe Downtown Plaza, selling his signature red chile and green chile biscochitos along with other local products such as La Lecheria ice cream, Zia sodas, and Agapao coffee. One local favorite is Rich’s bisookie, a biscochito ice cream sandwich. Rich’s recommended combo is red chile biscochitos with La Lecheria coffee ice cream. In Rich’s own words, this biscookie is “worth living for.”
Meet Rich and learn more about his journey in our recent interview—
How did you get into your work?
I first started making and designing jewelry 21 years ago. My designs and hand-crafted creations are created with techniques that have been used for centuries, inspired by Spanish and Native American silversmithing traditions. I was mentored by award-winning precious metal artists, including Santa Fe native Gregory Segura. Before the pandemic, I sold my jewelry through the Santa Fe’s Plaza Park Artist/Artisan Program. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the plaza closed, and I went on unemployment.
That’s when I got back to cooking again. I started selling Frito pies out my kitchen window. It was a great way to earn a few extra bucks and see friends and family at a safe distance.
With the holidays approaching, I thought I’d make biscochitos and sell them. Being a chef, I tried to get really fancy with my biscochitos. I tried everything from adding expensive brandy to sifting the flour before adding it to the lard. It turns out the biscochito is a humble cookie; it doesn’t need all the culinary flair that I tried to add. My humble biscochitos were a hit, and I got lots of orders!
One night I combined my biscochitos with some ice cream, and what a combination that was! So, I thought: biscochito ice cream! I was fortunate to have a high school friend who is the sister-in-law of Joel Coleman, the owner and creator of La Lecheria, an amazing local artisan ice cream shop. We combined my biscochitos with their hand-crafted ice cream to make this new local tradition, Biscochito Ice Cream.
What are some challenges you see in our community that you are trying to help solve?
Being a small business owner can be overwhelming, but I love being able to give back, collaborate, and exchange with other local small business owners. I am proud to carry other local products such as La Lecheria ice cream (thank you, Joel Coleman), Agapao coffee (thank you, Dave Black!), and Zia Sodas (thank you, Ezra Leyba!). I relied on local artists and designers to bring my brand to life—Artist Toby Morfin painted my food cart, Thomas Thompson from Black Label Machine designed and printed my stickers, Signs of Santa Fe owner Patrick Ortiz created my signage, and Jason Walker with Monsoon Design created my logos. A big shout out to Dan Baker of EnviroKarma for engineering my cart so it now runs off the solar panel that he installed.
I feel truly blessed to live in such a supportive community. All of these folks, and many more, have helped me get to where I am today. Small business owners are much stronger when we can support one another.
What are your hopes and dreams for our city?
Holding on to Santa Fe’s traditions is really important to me. I feel like it would be easy to lose sight of what the Santa Fe community is: a blending of races, backgrounds, and beliefs. I try to get locals to come to my food cart on the plaza. The plaza used to be a community space, but it’s just not as appealing to locals anymore.
I hope that this year’s fiestas can bring us all together again. I’ll be part of the fiestas this year, in the Cuadrilla. I’m so excited!
Which creative/changemaker in our city do you admire and why?
I really admire John Paul (JP) Granillo. JP’s transformation and how he gives back to the community is amazing. His story encourages me to not give up and to follow my dreams. One lesson I have learned is that people aren’t going to just hand things to you; you have to work for it and show others they can do the same.
Stay connected — follow Santa Fe Biscochito Company on Facebook.