When the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions closed many area businesses, locals had to get creative to pay the bills. Support came from numerous organizations and individuals around the community, but for many it wasn’t quite enough to meet their needs. That was the point when Mike Chingman, out of work while the Shoshone Rose Casino & Hotel is closed, had to get creative.
Mike or Mikey is a well known personality in Fremont County and has a passion for serving the community. He sat on the Eastern Shoshone Business Council for several years and currently serves on the Eastern Shoshone Entertainment Committee. He was also the primary organizer of the Moccasin Lake Challenge, a non-competitive run that brought hundreds of people to Fort Washakie over the years. He’s known for his stunning photography of the Wind River Reservation as well, which he feels is a way to share positivity about local life.
So, when things got tough during the beginning of the shut down he took that passion and creativity and put it to use. Mike started cooking.
First, he started smoking meats like briskets and ribs for neighbors and friends. Then smoked turkey legs popped up. Then smoked chicken and special orders and sale days. He smoked turkey legs and handed out bottled coke for Father’s Day, which was a hit.
“My mom put a lot of love into her food and she used to cook to make extra money on the side of her regular job and I think that’s where I get it from. I love to cook because of her. I wanted to share that with people.” said Mike.
Then came the Mexican food. County 10 had the opportunity to enjoy Mike’s food for a meeting last week. He made huge trays of chicken and barbacoa street tacos, elote, rice and a Mexican fruit cup. We were absolutely blown away.
Looking over his Facebook Page we saw that he does A LOT of authentic Mexican cooking; Pezole and feideo, street foods, salsa with mortar and pestile. Combined with his smoked meat, it’s a pretty mouthwatering menu. We had to know – where did he learn to make food like that?
Mike said, “I love running my smokers for the briskets and ribs and turkeys, but lately I’ve been making latino foods that I have been learning from my friend Denise and I can’t believe how amazing this food is.”
Denise Mendoza is a close friend of Mike’s. She spent her childhood in El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico. “I started showing Mikey the type of food I grew up learning how to cook from my grandma and aunts who were from Juarez Chihuahua Mexico and showed me more of our cultures and traditions,” Denise said. “I learned the best recipes that I took for granted living back home. Moving to Wyoming made me miss the food so I started showing Mikey how to make our most traditional dishes. It has been incredible seeing how people enjoy the food that we grew up around.”
Mike told us that he doesn’t know how much longer he’ll continue to sell food because he hopes to be back at work with the Shoshone Rose Casino & Hotel soon. There are SOME good things that have come out of the shut down – Mike’s food is definitely one. Check it out while it lasts – the County 10 team can vouch that the food is top notch. If you’d like a party or business function catered, give Mike a call at 307-349-7089 or message him on Facebook (@mikeychingy).