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Green Chile Stew Competition surprises

This year’s winners of the Roswell Daily Record Best of the Southwest Green Chile Stew Competition were Gina Dwyer (third place), Susana Gonzalez (second place) and the winner was Maribel Ochoa. Pictured, left to right, are executive director of MainStreet Roswell Kathy Lay; Susana Gonzalez — El Chupacabra; Gina Dwyer; Molly Boyles — MainStreet Roswell; and pictured in the inset photo with Lay is Maribel Ochoa — Laura’s Cafe. (Christina Stock Photo)

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MainStreet Roswell invited professional and private cooks to participate in its Roswell Daily Record Best of the Southwest Green Chile Stew Competition at the Chile Cheese Festival last Saturday.

This year, 10 competitors stepped forward to fight for the honor to claim the title of best green chile stew in town.

This title came with individual award plaques for the first, second and third place, bushels of green chile from Graves Farms and money. Additionally, the first place winner receives a traveling plaque to display in their business for a year. Last year’s winner was Martin’s Capitol Cafe.

The competitors had to bring their crockpots with the hot green chile stew to the information tent of the organizer, MainStreet Roswell. After the crockpots were set and plugged in, executive director of MainStreet Roswell, Kathy Lay, gave each pot a number and guarded them.

The judges for the contest had been approached earlier and volunteered to participate. The judges came from all walks of life in Roswell, from business owners and historians to artists, journalists and retirees. The last judge joined on the day of the event. His name is Adam Vosding. Vosding is a food blogger from Florida and arrived in Roswell specifically for the Chile Cheese Festival.

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“I always wanted to come to Roswell and fortunately my path on my journey led me out west first,” Vosding said. “I am only three weeks into my food blogging journey.

“I was very exited to get here and I started looking at things to do in Roswell and saw the Chile Cheese Festival. I knew I had to be here this Saturday for the festival because I love green chile,” Vosding said. Vosding is originally from Canada and encountered green chile for the first time in Colorado when his sister moved there.

The eight judges (Dan Coleman, Tanya Craft, Tabitha Denny, Janice Dunnahoo, Jeneva Jewel Martinez, Alice Ramirez, Jeorganna Simoes and Vosding) were informed about the rules by the table captain, Christina Stock, who was also a judge. The rules were decided on by MainStreet Roswell.

Stock was asked to take on the position because of her experience. She was trained in the hotel and restaurant industry in Europe; she was the editor of the Pecos Area Travel and Dining Guide (published by the Roswell Daily Record); she is a certified Kansas City Barbecue Society judge and table captain. Stock had numerous experiences in judging and organizing food competitions in Southeast New Mexico in the past 10 years.

There were four criteria with a maximum 35 points to give. Criteria were presentation (appearance, color, thickness, smell), flavor, tenderness/texture and heat of the chile (appropriateness for the flavors incorporated).

The judges were relieved of their duty at 4 p.m. Molly Boyles of MainStreet Roswell had given out milk and sugar packages in case of very hot stew, but fortunately all competitors had been responsible in the usage of green chile.

Being able to enjoy the heat level depends on the individual. What is to hot for one can be mild for an other.

Vosding had no problem sampling any of the stew and neither did any of the judges. Comparing it to the green chile he had outside of New Mexico, Vosding said, “This is the real deal. It was interesting, some were a little on the soupy side, some were really on the thick side. I think, I had a mental picture of them being a little thicker, but I found that some of the thinner ones had more flavor. That was kind of interesting. I liked it when I could see the little black char on the chile in the stew as well and some had some kind of cheese on it, which was surprising — not really traditional, I guess — but both of them were really, really good.”

Asked what he will take with him from Roswell, Vosding said, “I really only got into Roswell this morning and met a lot of nice people already. I’ve been learning more about the pepper itself. I had the chance to talk with a gentleman this morning; one of farmers who grows the peppers — or chiles — along the road. He gave me a little bit of history. How they mature and change color, when to roast them and all that. I feel that food is always a part of the culture of the area, so this is definitely a representative of the New Mexico culture, which is fantastic.

“Everybody needs to get out here because green chile is the best. Chile with an ‘e’ for those Canadians who don’t know it,” Vosding said and laughed. “Don’t insult anybody by using chili with an ‘i,’ it’s chile with an ‘e.’”

Vosding said that he would participate in the Eastern New Mexico State Fair parade on Monday before heading out to Ruidoso and Alamogordo. To read about his adventures in Roswell and to follow him, visit travelingfooddude.com for links to his social media accounts.

The highlight of the day was the announcement of the winners by Boyles at 5 p.m. from the stage area.

Third place went to a private contender, Gina Dwyer, with a total of 260 points.

Second place went to El Chupacrabra with 277 points. Susana Gonzalez accepted the award.

First price went to Laura’s Cafe with 285 points. The owner, Maribel Ochoa, was not present during the announcement, but came later to the information tent to receive her award.

She didn’t expect to win. “It didn’t even cross my mind,” she said. Asked what the secret in the recipe is, Ochoa said, “I think it’s my touch, my dedication. I’ve been running Laura’s Cafe for six years.” The restaurant is located at 100 S. Richardson Ave.

This is the first time that the Roswell Daily Record has sponsored the Green Chile Stew Contest. On behalf of the Roswell Daily Record staff, the editor John Dilmore, general manager SaraLei Fajardo and publisher Barbara Beck, “Congratulations to the winners.”

Christina Stock may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 309, or at vision@rdrnews.com.

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