- File: Matthew Thorsen ©️ Seven Days
- Michael Werneke
When Alfie's Wild Ride, a new bar and music spot, opens on Stowe's Mountain Road this summer, chef Michael Werneke will be in the kitchen making Mexican-style tacos.
Currently in his 30th year as a professional chef, Werneke moved to Vermont in 2009 and had various jobs that included being executive chef at Prohibition Pig (now called simply Pro Pig) in Waterbury until December 2018, when he left to cook in Hawaii.
The owners of Alfie's Wild Ride, Beth and Chris Oleks, also own the Stowe Public House & Bottle Shop, which they bought in November 2019. When they started discussing the culinary aspect of their latest project with Werneke and inquired what he'd like to do, Beth recounted, "He said, 'I want to run a taco stand.'"
"I've wanted to do one for 20 years," Werneke said.
Werneke said he cultivated his appreciation for tacos during a six-year stint cooking in San Diego when he traveled frequently to Baja California. "I'd spend more time in kitchens than on the beach," he said. "I don't do well in the sun."
The chef wants to honor the family-run taco stands he loved in Mexico. "I'm trying to replicate as carefully and respectfully as possible my experience in Baja and in the Yucatán," Werneke said.
The counter-service taco menu will stick to classics such as carne al pastor sliced off a vertical rotisserie, and Baja-style battered fish cooked in lard, with simple toppings such as slivered cabbage and avocado crema. "I just want to do really, really good tacos," Werneke said.