Tribal foodies bring flavor to Ignacio

Laurie Monte and Estelle Monte join together most mornings making food for all to enjoy. Estelle owns a small catering business, which sells breakfast and snack items Monday through Thursday.
Elise Redd prepares fry bread during her Monday Lunch Sale on Feb. 27 inside the Multi-Purpose Facility.
Trennie Collins | The Southern Ute Drum
Sacha Smith | The Southern Ute Drum


Every community has their staple restaurants, the ones you go to out of love for their food, and out of habit. Tribal members Estelle Monte and Elise Redd are becoming increasing known around the community for their food services; offering some new flavor options different from the “usual” restaurants.

Both ladies offer their catering services to the community. Monte, owner and head chef of her business, “Rez Girls Catering” focuses on providing homemade fresh breakfast, snacks, desserts and take-home dinners to the community several days out of the week.

Redd, who hasn’t quite settled on a name for her food endeavor, manages a weekly lunch sale every Monday and continues to cater events around town. Her specialties include some customer favorites – Indian Tacos, brisket and of course chile, she said.

Alike, the ladies have long been known in the community for their food. Monte, said it runs in her family, as her mother would often cater events when she was younger. Redd said she has been catering several community events for the last 12 years, but it has become more consistent over the past year.

Both acknowledged that making money is a goal, however they both said that it’s more than the money; it’s something they are really passionate about.

“I like to cook, that’s why I do it,” Redd said.

Similarly, Monte said, “I make good money, but it’s not all about the money, I like to make people happy.”

Like most of us know, just because you love doing something doesn’t necessarily make it easy. Both ladies talked about the amount of work that goes into sharing their food with the community – both recognizing early on that it was not a job they could do alone.

Monte employs four tribal members that help her deliver her food – her sister Laurie being her main helper shares kitchen time with Estelle and also serves as the main distributor of the food.

Estelle prides herself on the freshness of her ingredients – everything being made the day it is sold. She said she would never compromise the freshness or quality of her homemade food, so she has accepted the strenuous work it takes to provide a high quality product.

“It’s a process,” Estelle said. From Saturday’s spent shopping for ingredients to waking up at 3 a.m. to begin making fresh tortillas, the Monte sisters say they are committed to making the business thrive.

“You have to love to cook,” Laurie said. “This is certainly not for the weak at heart.”

Estelle added that though it is hard she enjoys the interaction with the community and enjoys feeding people. At the end of the breakfast run you will often find Laurie or Estelle giving out their leftover burritos for free,“Nothing goes to waste,” Estelle said.

Though not on a daily basis like Rez Girls Catering, Redd recalled the work and long hours that goes into her weekly sales as well as other events she caters, like funerals, birthdays, and graduations.

“It’s not easy,” she said. Which is why she has employed some help of her own. Redd partners with fellow tribal elder Terry Box on her weekly sales. Box helps with all tasks including prep, cooking, serving and managing the sales window.

Redd, however doesn’t see herself expanding into the day-to-day business like Rez Girls Catering.

“I like it how it is now,” she said. “I like to visit with my friends and cook for them, it’s fun to me … I wouldn’t want to do it everyday.”

The future of the two is uncertain, but they both see themselves still cooking and providing that service.

You can try a taste of Redd’s food on Monday’s at the Multi-Purpose Facility from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m – cash and debit cards accepted. She can also be reached for catering at 970-799-8149.

If you would like to try Rez Girls Catering, you can catch one of their employees delivering breakfast to tribal campus and around town Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. Rez Girls also accepts both cash and debit cards. If you have any event coming up that you are interested in having catered you can reach out to Rez Girls Catering at 970-553-9025, or on their Facebook page at Rez Girls Catering.



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