Annual Chile Roast Returns: Virginia Avenue Park Farmers Market’s Spices up September

By Sam Skopp

 

Each September, Virginia Avenue Park Farmers Market hosts a chile roast where delicious chiles are roasted on-site every Saturday. Kicking off Sept. 2, the event saw chiles sold in one pound bags of anaheim, poblano, jalapeno and yellow wax peppers.

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Farmers Market Supervisor Laura Avery explained that the tradition was inspired by hatch chile roasting season, during which trucks of Hatch chiles are brought from the Hatch region of New Mexico to stores and sold a la carte or cooked into quesadillas.

“These are California chiles,” Avery said, explaining that all of the chiles sold at the farmers market are California varietals, grown locally at Tutti Fruitti Farms. “It’s the Hatch chile roast concept.”

For its first weekend, the staff at the farmers market roasted 180 pounds of chiles, and will likely roast even more in the coming weeks to meet increased demand. Roasting starts at 9 a.m. and lasts for about two hour.

New to this year’s chile roast is the addition of a quesadilla stand headed by Upper West executive chef Nick Shipp.

“Upper West is a restaurant that we work with here at the park,” said Avery. “They’re a Pico restaurant, so we’re working within the Pico business district.”

Shipp is from Texas, and serves each quesadilla with a side of his unique salsa recipe.

“Nick has been executive chef at Upper West for seven and a half years, and is a big friend of the market and friend of the city,” Avery said.

Both the chile stand and the chile quesadillas were popular with market shoppers on its first Saturday this year, with a constant stream of customers, many of whom were not previously familiar with the chile roast. Just halfway through the duration of the market, jalapenos were being sold in half-pound bags to keep up with high demand.

The roaster, after two hours of chile roasting
Photos: Sam Skopp
Farmers market staff helps two interested customers.

For more information on the Virginia Avenue Park Farmers Market, visit smgov.net/portals/farmersmarket.