By Jacque Aragon | Mountain Chile Cha Cha
Pagosa Springs may not be famous for growing large quantities of green chiles, but we sure do consume mass quantities of the spicy, capsaicin-filled peppers each year. From green chile stew to chiles rellenos, the verde vegetable is an integral ingredient in the regional cuisine of southwest Colorado. Our small town of Pagosa Springs hosts a spectacular annual green chile cook-off where chefs compete for cash, trophies and bragging rights.
The Patty Aragon Green Chile Classic celebrates the green chile harvest and a local green chile enthusiast who satiated green chile palettes for years with her tasty homemade recipe.
Patty Aragon and her husband, former mayor Ross Aragon, owned and operated Al’s West and East from the ’70s until 1992. They served traditional American and southwestern cuisine and were most famous for their green chile, which they served atop burgers, fries and almost everything.
“My mother was an expert green chile chef,” explained Jacque Aragon, who has organized the cook-off for the last 14 years. “I’m proud to carry on the family tradition and love seeing other people get excited about making and tasting green chile.”
The proceeds from the cook-off go to the Patty Aragon Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to Pagosa Springs High School seniors. The Patty Aragon Green Chile Classic’s mission is to build community in Pagosa Springs and the southwest while celebrating our cultural heritage through local cuisine and music.
Roughly 50 entrants, both amateur and professional, compete in the cook-off each year. Some cooks get creative; others go classic. Without their generous contribution of time, effort and ingredients, this event would not be possible. To enter your chile into the cook-off, visit ilovegreenchile.com.
Three judges volunteer for the difficult and filling job of choosing favorite chiles. Each judge tastes all chiles present and rates them on a scale from 1-10, plus takes notes in case the scores are close. Then the scores are added up and monies and medals are awarded to first, second and third places in meat, vegetarian and commercial categories. Once the judges are finished, the tasting is opened up to the public at 12:30 p.m. Each person who participates in the tasting pays $15 and is entitled to 10 tastes and a vote for the People’s Choice Awards for first, second and third places. Commercial entries will also be eligible for these prestigious awards.
The Patty Aragon Green Chile Classic is part of the Mountain Chile Cha Cha, co-hosted by the Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, and will occur in Town Park, rain or shine. There are 5K and 10K trail races for runners of all ages and abilities. There will also be a Mexican beer garden and the very popular margarita contest and tasting, where local restaurants and bars compete for the very best marg.
Prepare to have your senses tantalized with the smell of freshly roasted Hatch green chiles that will be for sale and roasted on-site.
Cha Cha goers will also enjoy a Spanish music concert featuring Str8 Shot, a popular band from New Mexico.
This is a free community event that will take place on Sept. 24. We hope to see you at the Cha Cha.