Playing with live fire is at the heart of chef Andrew Horton’s world in El Prado, New Mexico, just outside Taos. At Common Fire, where Horton is chef de cuisine, everything from a perfectly roasted chicken or a juicy pork chop to charred flatbreads blanketed with house-made Bolognese sauce is treated to the hearth that is at the center of the restaurant.

It’s a tricky business, cooking over a wood fire, and Horton has worked to perfect the art while also building a following. The Boulder, Colorado, native studied at New York’s French Culinary Institute until 2009, then manned the stoves at Brooklyn’s Roebling Tea Room, River Styx, Northeast Kingdom, and Faro (a rustic Italian spot that also features wood-fire cooking) before once again heading west to get back to the great outdoors and landing in Taos.

Before meeting Common Fire owner Andy Lynch and joining the team, Horton cooked at Taos Mesa Brewing, Lambert’s, and Sabroso.