Born in 1912 in San Antonio, Rosalea Murphy wanted to be an artist and enjoyed cooking as she was growing up. Later she lived in New Orleans where she picked up Creole sensibilities, and when she was married, moved to Santa Fe in the 1930s. It was a lazy, sleepy town back then and they even bought wood off of burros that would wander the streets.
In 1944, she leased a space that had pink walls, and named it the Pink Adobe, which was one of the first restaurants in town. That first restaurant was basically a hamburger place where she also baked her own apple pies. As time went on, she changed the food menu to reflect a combination of Continental dishes, with some Creole and native specialties featuring the region’s characteristic blue corn tortillas. She changed a lot of the Mexican dishes to lighten them, but didn’t cut back on the seasonings.
Later, she bought what was the Barrio de Analco, a three hundred year old former barracks with thirty-six inch thick adobe walls in which the small windows were placed high as protection against arrows. She painted it pink and moved the Pink Adobe there, where it remains today in 2016. In 1985, the Great Chefs television crew arrived to tape her for PBS’s Great Chefs of the West series, and Chef Rosalea prepared her signature dish, Gypsy Stew. It appeared in episode #8 of the television series as well as in the companion cookbook, Southwest Tastes.
Chef Murphy passed away in 2000 and her son-in-law took over the Pink Adobe until 2013, when a distant relative bought it. Her dishes still remain and are as exuberant as her paintings, which adorn the Pink Adobe’s walls.