Like father, like daughter: Highland’s Teresa Villalobos Taylor embraces her Mexican roots

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Teresa Villalobos Taylor makes a mean chile verde and says the best Mexican restaurant in town (outside her kitchen) is Mi Ranchito in American Fork. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

Teresa Villalobos Taylor makes a mean chile verde and says the best Mexican restaurant in town (outside her kitchen) is Mi Ranchito in American Fork. (Photo by Dave Blackhurst)

I grew up in the central valley of California. My father emigrated from Mexico and his sacrifices have shaped who I am and how I view the world. With only a sixth-grade education, and speaking little English, he settled in California. He married my mother, who was from east Los Angeles, and he eventually became the owner of his own Mexican restaurant.

As a child, I was my father’s interpreter. I would go to the bank with him and help him write checks and talk to his business associates. Being able to speak Spanish is a gift, and I always try to help others with that skill. When I hear someone speaking with an accent, I don’t look down on them.  I think about how cool and interesting it is that they speak another language.

My dad’s humble beginning taught me that everyone needs help to get by in this life. His example also taught me to be non-judgmental and loving to everyone.

“When I hear someone speaking with an accent, I don’t look down on them. I think about how cool and interesting it is that they speak another language.” —Teresa Villalobos Taylor

I also grew up with a sister who has some learning disabilities, and it taught me how to draw near to those who are different. She lives with my father now in American Fork and I see or call them almost every day.

I served an LDS mission in Peru. My husband also served there and while we didn’t know each other on the mission, we knew of each other. When I came to Provo to attend BYU, we started dating and have been married 24 years.

At BYU, I was a part of the “Lamanite Generation” performing group; today it is known as “Living Legends.” I volunteer on the alumni committee and help set up reunions and other alumni activities.

My mom was adamant that I finish my college education, and I graduated with a degree in social work when I was seven months pregnant with my second son.

After that, we moved to Texas for my husband to get his master’s degree. We moved back to Utah when my husband found a job here.

Today, I am a mother to four boys and one girl: Eric, Alec, Seth, Luke and Naomi. One of the ways I show love for my family is through food. Cooking is an extension of my love, and I enjoy having family and friends over and telling stories. Some dishes take a couple of days to prepare, so there is a lot of love in those meals! I believe I have mastered my father’s famous chile verde because it is a popular request. I’m known mostly for my salsa — and I’ve managed to not give out the recipe to anyone so far. My son says he wants to market it someday and my secret dream is to have my own food truck.

I love living in Utah Valley because of the variety of activities available. My whole family loves baseball, and we also have a love for the arts. I enjoy taking my kids to concerts at Velour or musicals at Hale Center Theater. We also attend the Festival Latinoamericano in Provo every year — I love seeing people there who are not Hispanic!

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Kate Lehnhof Nash first joined Bennett Communications as a summer intern in 2009. Now, as an associate editor, she writes for magazines including Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley Bride and Prosper. Kate lives in Springville with her husband Steve and enjoys running, reading, sushi and her french bulldog, Chief.

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