Hatch Chile Store founder Preston Mitchell is dedicated to providing authentic Hatch green chile to people throughout the country. Photo courtesy of Preston Mitchell.
A great-great-grandson of an Austrian immigrant credited with pioneering Hatch chiles as a commercial crop, Preston Mitchell helped ignite a global craze with an online chile business in 2005. What started as a way to help his grandparents find new customers has grown into the Hatch Chile Store, a robust emporium that delivers trucks of fresh chile to grocers and ships packs of frozen and dried chiles, salsas, pecans, tamales, and, new this year, chile face masks.
CHILE IS SO INGRAINED in our culture here. I think it’s what people remember the most—red chile ristras hanging on the stoop at night in the middle of winter. Or green chile roasting and that smell. That experience you get when you take a first bite of a freshly roasted chile with a bit of garlic and salt on it.
We think Hatch chile is similar to Napa Valley wine or Vidalia onions. Consumers recognize what a great product it is. Good, consistent marketing, good quality, and good pricing all kind of came together to allow it to take on a life of its own.
So many people order from us who’ve never experienced chile. They take a picture and post it on Facebook. Or they leave a gorgeous review: “I’ve never had New Mexico chile before. Now I’m a diehard fanatic.” The web has certainly allowed me to grow my business significantly faster than I would have with a brick-and-mortar store. When you’re looking for a new product, the first thing you do is whip out your cellphone and google it. Being in the right place at the right time has definitely been a blessing.
This is the most exciting time of the year. There’s a feeling of apprehension because you know how busy it’s about to get.
Often, three or four families will get together and order four or five 20-to-25-pound boxes of fresh chile from us. They’ll have a backyard barbecue and roast chile and drink a Corona or a Dos Equis. The entire family gets together and everyone helps peel the chile.
We get emails from people every year who were just so happy that we were able to ship them a taste of home. I think that’s going to be even more true this year, with the coronavirus and people not able to go home. It will be really neat to make people’s day or year by getting them a nice shipment of New Mexico green chile. —As told to Diana Alba Soular
Read more from our "Ultimate Guide to New Mexico Chile"
The Mystery of Big Jim
A 10-year effort to restore one of New Mexico’s most distinctive chiles underscores how memory thrives in our taste buds.
José Gonzalez: The Allure of Chile Farming
Although he's tried other jobs, José Gonzalez keeps coming back to the farm where his family grows chiles, corn, beans and more.
The Ultimate New Mexico Chile Tasting Guide
We asked two experts to describe the flavors of New Mexico’s best chile varieties.
More Than Just Salsa
Capsaicin does more than make chile hot, it is used in medicinal creams, bear repellent and in foods to give captive birds and fish a reddish hue.
The Making of Chile U
One of the only scientific institutions devoted to a so-called condiment flourishes in Las Cruces.
Matt Romero: The Chile Roaster
Rooted in family history, Matt Romero brings that heavenly scent and his special flair to the Santa Fe Farmers' Market.
Rooted in Native Soil
Chile holds a very special place in the traditional foods of Southwest tribes.
Nick Maryol: Feeding the Soul
The owner of Santa Fe's Tia Sophia's, Nick Maryol understands how food creates ties to our families, our history and our culture.
Mix and Hatch
Does chile go with everything? Mmmmmmaybe.
Take Your Pick
At Big Jim Farms, in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, you can hand pick your chiles right from the field.
Danise Coon: Researching New Varieties
With roots on the farm, Danise Coon helps develop new varieties at the Chile Pepper Institute.
Make Your Own Ristra
The ristra is iconic decor, but it's also a pantry on a string.