Click photo to enlarge
Curious Kumquat owner and head chef Rob Connoley prepares a type of Dutch cookie for an elderly Dutch customer in poor health before the restaurant opened its doors on Wednesday. Connoley and his small staff earned the 39th ranking on Saveur magazine s 100 list of exciting culinary ventures this year. He anticipates this will be a big boom for Silver City tourism, as many foodies read the magazine and plan their travels on this list.

SILVER CITY — Silver City may see a spike in its tourism economy through the success of local restaurant The Curious Kumquat.

The Kumquat was recently ranked number 39 on Saveur magazine's annual Top 100 List. Saveur magazine is a high-end national magazine focused on food and wine. Each year, it lists 100 recipes, restaurants, chefs and ingredients that its staff is excited about. This year, one of those is owner and head chef Rob Connoley's Curious Kumquat.

"Not to downplay our achievement in any way, but there are plenty of restaurants in town with good food. It could have been anyone," Connoley said. "Ours just matches the style of cooking Saveur tends to look for."

By this, he means locally sourced, ethnically diverse and technically experimental.

Connoley insists on using local produce whenever possible and no matter the cost. His meat, with few exceptions, comes from local farmers and 4-Hers. This proximity to his ingredients is important to Connoley and to what he has been trying to do at the Curious Kumquat since its beginnings as a restaurant.

Like Zora O'Neill wrote in the 100 List article in Saveur, the Kumquat's roots run deep.

Connoley moved to town nine years ago. His first job wasn't as a restaurateur, but at the Wellness Coalition. He had led a youth group in Indianapolis before the move and continued his non-profit work until he was able to follow his passion and work in the food industry.


The Curious Kumquat was originally an international grocery store, but seemed at once restless in that capacity, soon spreading to include a cafe and finally operating as chiefly a restaurant. This spring, the Kumquat got rid of the grocery altogether, focusing strictly on their menu and service.

The "foodie" movement has seen an enormous growth spurt in recent years, spurred mainly by television reality shows like Top Chef, and it's tourism arm has been aided by the likes of "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" and "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern." Foodies travel to different locations seeking new food experiences and often carry a discerning pallet to match. Connoley is a self-described foodie himself.

"Before I opened a restaurant I would wait for that issue," Connoley said of Saveur's 100 List. "That's why this is so exciting."

Connoley only has one other cook who works with him in his restaurant. They even wash all their own dishes. As that cook rushes around their small kitchen, readying the Kumquat's lunch opening on Wednesday, he spares a second for just a few words.

"It's well deserved," said David Timmons, who has worked in several Silver City kitchens but has only been at the Kumquat for a little under a year.

For a small restaurant, with a small staff, in a small town, this listing makes them a destination.

What does this mean for the rest of Silver City? According to Connoley, quite a bit.

He guesses that this will be a huge boon to local tourism.

"People wait for that list all year," Connoley said, "and they'll make their travel plans based on what is on it. That means the hotels, the shops, the galleries, the other restaurants will all see a big impact from this. And that is great."

According to its parent company, Echo Media, Saveur magazine has an average monthly circulation of 325,000. That is a lot of eyes on the Curious Kumquat and Silver City.

Benjamin Fisher can be reached at (575) 538-5893 ext. 5803.