ONE SUNDAY NIGHT in the early 1950s, three brothers in the Baca family sat around the supper table, hashing out their next business venture. The men had returned from World War II to their Barelas neighborhood, south of downtown Albuquerque, then pooled their money to start a successful local grocery. The Ace Food Store’s carryout business, centered on their mother Filomena’s sumptuous New Mexico classics, was doing well. But the Bacas saw supermarkets—and commercial frozen foods—as factors that could make or break their small biz.
“They really created a brand-new industry,” says Ana Baca of Bueno Foods, the New Mexico food company her father, Joe, co-founded, which remains headquartered in the South Valley after four expansions and two generations.
Bueno Foods celebrates the 70th anniversary of a blockbuster idea—fire-roasted New Mexico green chile that is frozen, packaged, and sold year-round—with a new line of chile-forward salsas. “My brother, Gene, always wanted to create a salsa that did not have jalapeño in it,” Baca explains. “He wanted to showcase New Mexico–certified and –grown green chile.”
The Salsa Soul Packs are available in two sets, both of which include the unique Christmas Roast Salsa (hot), a combination of red and green chiles. “It’s pretty much our family’s favorite. When chile starts turning red, there’s a little bit of a sweetness to it,” Baca says. The Passion Pack adds Hatch Autumn Roast Salsa (hot) and Hatch Salsa (medium) to make a trio, while the Inspiration Pack includes Tomatillo Salsa (medium) and Salsa Verde (hot), both of which pack a jalapeño-fueled heat.