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El Rey Farm's Annual Green Chile Delivery to La Puente
Written with Joel Rane
On Saturday, El Rey Farms brought their last batch of green chiles from Hatch, New Mexico, to La Puente High School. 38-pound sacks were sold fresh or roasted. The mood was festive, with customers sharing recipes and preparing for the big parties that they schedule around the deliveries.
Chiles are roasted on site at La Puente High School. There is also a flea market that takes place around the corner, and some high school kids start cooking the chiles right away, making tacos, so it's like a chile festival.
According to their website, "El Rey is a family business that started in 1970 when Rey & Elsie brought some extra sacks of chile for a few neighbors and their relatives." A tradition had begun. When Rey Martinez, founder of Rey El Farms, passed away in March 2009, his daughter and son in law took over the chile business and changed the name to El Rey Farms. They continued Rey's legacy, bringing in around 200,000 pounds of chile every year.
Every year chiles from El Rey and Martinez land, which they work together, is brought in four or five trucks over the course of the summer from New Mexico to Los Angeles. Deliveries to La Puente are scheduled on Saturdays between August and September. Most people pre-order by the sackful, mild, medium or hot. You show up at the school and when your name is called, you decide whether you want your chiles fresh or roasted.
For roasted chiles, they pour the chiles into rotating metal roasters that tumble the chiles for even cooking. Using propane, Mark Embry Lewis roasts the chiles, which must spin exactly 75 times. We got our bag roasted, and they are happily tucked away in the freezer for tamale season.