Competition heats up for green chile classic

By Jacque Aragon
Special to The PREVIEW

Photo courtesy Trent Bona Hundreds of tasters will judge green chile creations at the seventh annual Patty Aragon Green Chile Classic on Sept. 27. Over 40 amateur and professional cooks are expected to compete for awards and bragging rights.

Photo courtesy Trent Bona
Hundreds of tasters will judge green chile creations at the seventh annual Patty Aragon Green Chile Classic on Sept. 27. Over 40 amateur and professional cooks are expected to compete for awards and bragging rights.

The seventh annual Patty Aragon Green Chile Classic (PAGCC) will take place at the Mountain Chile Cha Cha in Pagosa Springs on Saturday, Sept. 27.

The green chile cook-off and tasting entices over 40 cooks, both professional and amateur, and several hundred tasters.

GECKO (Giving Every Child Knowledge of the Outdoors) hosts a trail race that brings hundreds of runners who join in the festivities after their run.

Additionally, there will be a free Latin music dance concert, and a Mexican beer garden.

PAGCC’s mission is to build community in Pagosa Springs and the southwest while celebrating its Hispanic cultural heritage through local cuisine and music. PAGCC also hopes to cultivate new green chile enthusiasts.

In much the same way that easterners equate the smell of pressed apples with the coming of fall, southwesterners know it’s autumn by the smell of roasting green chiles, usually the Hatch variety from New Mexico, but sometimes Big Jims, which are commonly grown around Grand Junction.

The PAGCC awards more than $600 in prize money and some pretty sweet trophies, along with bragging rights.

This event is slightly different than a typical chile cook-off because it only features green chile, a dish that is ubiquitous in our region, but not as well known outside of New Mexico and southern Colorado.

Patty Aragon, who passed away 14 years ago, was locally famous for her green chile, often served on burgers and fries at Al’s Café a restaurant she ran and owned with her husband Ross. When they closed their doors in 1992, it was the end of an era for many Pagosans. Several local restaurants have kept the green chile tradition alive and well here in town, along with legions of home cooks who continually strive for the “perfect” green chile recipe.

Some people prefer scorching hot chile, others like it mild; some cooks use chicken, others use pork or no meat at all. No matter how you make your green chile, you’ll have a chance to show your stuff in September and possibly win some cash or a trophy and the undying admiration of local green chile aficionados.

There is a $5 early bird entry fee if received on or before Sept. 15 and $10 per entry after that. Go to pagosaspringsdining.com to enter.

This story was posted on September 4, 2014.