Hot-n-spicy com­pe­ti­tion at the Taos Chile Chal­lenge

The Taos News - - VECINOS - By Yvonne Pes­quera so­cial­me­dia@taos­news.com

The heat was on at the 12th an­nual Taos Chile Chal­lenge on Satur­day (Sept. 22). Judg­ing by the num­ber of at­ten­dees sniff­ing back runny noses and wip­ing wa­tery eyes, the 17 par­tic­i­pat­ing restau­rants pre­pared pow­er­ful recipes.

The Judges’ Choice 1st Place Awards went to Eske’s Brew Pub (green) and Pepe’s Salsa (red). The Peo­ple’s Choice 1st Place Awards went to Taos Re­tire­ment Vil­lage (green) and The Ter­race at Taos Coun­try Club (red).

This sig­na­ture gas­tro­nomic event also in­cluded a bat­tle of the brew­eries. The Peo­ple’s Choice award went to Santa Fe Brew­ing (1st Place), Eske’s (2nd Place), and En­chanted Cir­cle Brew­ing (3rd Place).

The event is the brain­child of the Taos Mi­la­gro Ro­tary Club. Work­ing in part­ner­ship with The Ter­race Bar & Grill at Taos Coun­try Club, at­ten­dance seemed to be the high­est this year by all ac­counts.

The main ball­room of the Ter­race swelled with lo­cal busi­ness­peo­ple, cre­atives, phi­lan­thropists and of course, golfers. Even more peo­ple milled out on the ter­race un­der the tents and in the sun­shine of a per­fect blue sky.

The Chile Chal­lenge in­cludes a morn­ing golf tour­na­ment. The 1st place scram­ble went to Tom Blanken­horn, Jim Mitchell, Shaun Payne and Jay Wood.

“We had 112 play­ers this year. It was re­ally suc­cess­ful and it is all to ben­e­fit the Ro­tary’s ‘Dol­lars for Schol­ars’ pro­gram,” said Phillip Kim, as­sis­tant golf pro at Taos Coun­try Club.

The Chile Chal­lenge’s $25 ad­mis­sion fee, as well as pro­ceeds from a silent auction and 50/50 raf­fle, are pooled to pro­vide schol­ar­ships to high school stu­dents through­out Taos County. Over the past 12 years, Taos Mi­la­gro Ro­tary Club has awarded over $140,000 in schol­ar­ships to area youth, in­clud­ing seven schol­ar­ships to grad­u­at­ing se­niors in the Class of 2018.

Lu­cille Gal­le­gos-Jaramillo is this year’s club pres­i­dent. She ex­plained that the Ro­tary awards four-year aca­demic schol­ar­ships for stu­dents pur­su­ing bach­e­lor’s de­grees and two-year schol­ar­ships for vo­ca­tional schools. High school stu­dents ap­ply for the schol­ar­ship each year, and the club ranks the ap­pli­cants aca­dem­i­cally.

“When the stu­dents are in col­lege, they have to main­tain a 3.2 grade point av­er­age,” she said.

For the silent auction, lo­cal busi­nesses do­nated a bounty of gift cards and mer­chan­dise equal­ing a to­tal value of $24,000. In be­tween chile and beer sam­pling, guests stud­ied the bid sheets laid out on ta­bles and taped to walls. The bid­ding was not for the faint of heart. For ex­am­ple, a Yeti Cooler ($250 value) do­nated by Río Grande Ace Hard­ware al­ready had a high bid of $200 when an hour of bid­ding was left to go.

Back at the chile tast­ing ta­bles, guests se­lected their choice by drop­ping a bead in the restau­rant’s can. Win­ning restau­rants re­ceived a plaque. “For brag­ging rights,” said Gal­le­gos-Jaramillo. And the win­ning brew­eries won a brewmeis­ter mug.

The chile con­tenders were a mix of tra­di­tional fa­vorite restau­rants, such as An­to­nio’s, which picked up two prizes for Judges 2nd Place (green) and Judges 3rd Place (red). Early on in the tast­ing, chef An­to­nio Ma­tus looked con­fi­dent and ex­plained, “I’m serv­ing veg­e­tar­ian green chile and pork red chile.”

Though no one was shy when it came to talk­ing about their chile.

Ja­cob Her­rera is the food and bev­er­age direc­tor of The Ter­race. Hours be­fore his restau­rant claimed two prizes, he said their chile is “the best in the state and the world. You can quote me on that.”

The Ter­race won for two recipes: Peo­ple’s Choice 2nd Place green pre­pared by Jose Ren­te­ria and Peo­ple’s Choice 1st Place red pre­pared by Alex Gior­dano.

Re­cently opened restau­rants, such as Quecha Peru­vian Restau­rant also got in on the ac­tion. “We made the chile in the tra­di­tional New Mex­i­can way but with a Peru­vian twist,” said Nikki Bar­reto whose fa­ther Trot­sky is the owner.

Chef Karin Snowflower of Taos Pue­blo was the sole caterer to com­pete. “They said any­body is wel­come, so I de­cided to en­ter my chile. I think I have a good chance,” she said.

No Taos beer event would be com­plete with­out the pres­ence of the bour­geon­ing Taos Mesa Brew­ing. Peter Kol­shorn, one of the brew­ery’s four founders, hap­pily poured sam­ples of Sol­stice Pale Ale (his per­sonal fa­vorite) and Mr. Pink Cherry Wheat.

Cast against a stun­ning back­ground view of Pue­blo Peak (a.k.a. Taos Moun­tain), Kol­shorn of TMB said, “We love sup­port­ing the com­mu­nity.”

Yvonne Pes­quera

Eske’s Brew Pub had a no­table pres­ence with a “tri­fecta” at the Taos Chile Chal­lenge: serv­ing chile, beer and its Chile Beer Ale.

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