Astronaut adores mother-in-law’s cooking at Casa Las Katarinas

EARLIER THIS SPRING, SPACEX RELAUNCED a used Falcon 9 rocket that could lower the cost of space travel and help chart a course to Mars, said founder and chief executive Elon Musk. As it turns out, a popular foothills restaurateur has a link to the trail-blazing SpaceX program.

Garrett Reisman, SpaceX’s director of space operations and former NASA astronaut, is the son-in-law of Chef Delia Gutierrez and Dave Francis, who own the popular Casa Las Katarinas restaurant in Grass Valley.

And, contrary to the old wives tale, Garrett loves his mother-in-law’s cooking. Garrett and his wife Simone, an oceanographer, have been known to fly their airplane from their home in Redondo Beach to the Auburn Municipal Airport and visit Dave and Delia at the restaurant.

Garrett enjoys “Bistec Ranchero,” thin sliced beef, fresh bell peppers, onions and serrano peppers in a ranchero sauce and “Camarones al Mojo de Ajo,” grilled shrimp with garlic butter. Other times he and Simone just ask Delia to choose for them.

Garrett joined SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, in 2011 as a senior engineer and has been promoted since. The Caltech graduate joined SpaceX from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration where he had served since 1998.

Garrett joked that he was impressed that SpaceX had flown a wheel of LeBrouere cheese into orbit, one of Musk’s pranks. He also observed: “I see commercial spaceflight as our country’s best option for a robust and sustainable human spaceflight future.”

Garrett has flown on two Space Shuttle missions, logging over three months in space including three spacewalks.

Casa Las Katarinas features some of Garret’s NASA memorabilia, including a colorful ladybug figurine that traveled to outer space. Garrett brought the ladybug aboard the International Space Station in 2008. A certificate reads: “This object traveled a distance of 40,153,970 statute miles before returning aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.”

Delia and Dave reopened Casa Las Katarinas in Alta Sierra on Hwy. 49 after a successful 10-year-run in Nevada City. The new location is popular and has been expanded to include a banquet room. A new deli for take-out orders is in the works and expected to open this summer. Chef Delia also has created a new vegan menu, which has proven popular.

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