New Mexico Chile Taste-Off judges had a blast tasting pepper samples.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain photos

Everyone who loves green chile has preferred taste and heat levels, and New Mexico Chile Taste-Off judges Suzanne Perez and Cathy Terranova shared their thoughts on the state’s most famous produce.

Miss New Mexico on chile

Suzanne Perez is the reigning Miss New Mexico USA and admits she has a passion for green chile, and she was happy to be on hand for the taste off.

“Green chile was kind of part of my decision that helped me choose to go to the University of New Mexico,” Perez said. “I really love like a smoky flavor. I know that’s very broad and very general but just something that’s smoky and something that has a lot of potency in it.”

Miss New Mexico likes a chile pepper that carries some heat, so she wasn’t worried about running into a hot one.

When it comes to New Mexico chile, there’s one true test and that’s taste.

“I’m not afraid of the hot ones. I’m ready. I’ve been doing it my whole life,” Perez said. “There’s a trick you can use with a little bit of salt on your tongue. I put just a little bit of salt on my mouth, or I drink milk. If it’s really hot, milk is my go-to.”

Crocodile tears

Hot chile doesn’t bother Cathy Terranova (2023 New Mexico Elite Miss Agriculture USA) but she admits the casual observer might think she’s suffered bad news.

“When something is extra spicy, I cry large crocodile tears down my face. So, I guess the best way to know that I’m eating something hot would be to see how much it looks like I’ve just gotten terrible news,” Terranova said. “I love it and please pass me a tissue.”

PBS documents taste off

Socorro County green chile growers will be taking the national stage after a film crew for the Public Broadcasting System turned out in full force to record the sights and sounds of last weekend’s New Mexico Chile Taste-Off.

Organizers of the event started it to draw attention to New Mexico chile and create a friendly competition among state growers. In 2023, America the Bountiful will premier on PBS and features TV host and cookbook author Capri Cafaro.

Cafaro and a film crew are traveling across the heartland of America exploring regional food traditions and they were busy in Socorro on Saturday capturing all the action.

No broadcast date has been set for the New Mexico Chile Taste-Off, but the show’s expected schedule is at


Best Red Chile: Rosales Farms

Second Best Red Chile: Speir Family Farms

Best Green Chile: Speir Family Farms

Second Best Green Chile: Tomas Vigil

New Mexico County winner: Luna County