People Of The Chile Film

Santa Fe School of Cooking 

Director, Nicole Curtis Ammerman, a Santa Fe native, and Susan’s daughter, directs all retail, inventory, customer service and staff activities at the School, as well as overseeing daily operations. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing at the University of Arizona, and held management positions in retail sales and customer service operations with The Limited Corporation before joining the School as manager in 1993.

Nicole has also been enjoying developing new programs that have been very well received by the customers of the School including the Southwest Culinary Bootcamp that runs twice a year. She also conceptualized and implemented the wildly popular,


Jeremiah Schultz

Jeremiah Schultz began his cooking career in a Moroccan restaurant while in business school in Colorado Springs. It was there that his passion for food was realized: within six months, he was Kitchen Manager.
He decided to pursue his love of the culinary arts full time and left Business school behind to fully immerse himself in the world of fine dining. Since this initial experience, Jeremiah has worked as Head Chef, Sous Chef, Personal Chef and manager in many establishments.

His appreciation for fresh, local and sustainable fare weaves through his culinary creativity. Jeremiah hopes to one day operate a potato and quinoa farm on his property in Southern Colorado.

Noe Cano 

kitchen manager and sous chef, is an invaluable asset to the School. He does all the food purchasing as well as prep and assisting with the classes. He has been at the School for 15 years.

Noe has worked at many of Santa Fe’s top restaurants including La Casa Sena, Coyote Cocina and was chef de cuisine at Hotel St. Francis. He has worked alongside many of the chefs of Santa Fe as well as some celebrity chefs.

He was instrumental in the production of a segment of The Food Networks show called Dinner Impossible, which celebrated the traditional foods of New Mexico.

Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen in Santa Fe NM 

Al Lucero - Owner of Maria's New Mexican Kitchen

The Maria’s tradition began in 1952 when Maria and Gilbert Lopez started a small take-out kitchen in the area that now houses our bar and fine kitchen. Maria’s traditional Northern new Mexico cooking soon became such a hit that Gilbert built a patio. But the rains were relentless that year, so Gilbert covered the patio with the very vigas and roof that are still in place today, in what we now call “The Cantina.” This was the beginning of a restaurant which has built a history unto itself and has become a Santa Fe landmark and showplace.

In 1985, Laurie and Al Lucero bought Maria’s and have since tried to make the restaurant the same as it was when Al, a Santa Fe native, was growing up here int he late forties and early fifties. Since the Lucero takeover, Maria’s has re-established itself as one of Santa Fe’s premier restaurants, constantly receiving local, national and international praises for its ambiance, cuisine and hospitality. We hope we earn yours.

The dinner menu contains over thirty items, including fajitas, steaks, soups and salads, and New Mexican dinners, with an average price of approximately $8.50.


Hatch Chile Express

Hatch Chile Express was founded in 1988. We have been providing quality chile products and service for the past 23 years. We have been featured on the Food Network on a program called “Eat the Heat,”  “Garden Giants”  and “Glutton For Punishment”  for the past year. We have also been featured in magazines such as Sunset, Country America, Gourmet, Walking, Time, Texas Monthly and Top Producer and most recently Southern Living. Perhaps you have also seen us on ABC News, CNN and Nick News.


The Shed and La Choza- Owned and operated by the Carswell family 

The Shed, a dining institution since 1953 is located on Palace Avenue just east of the plaza. Look for the small, vividly colored wooden sign that marks the entrance. The restaurant occupies nine quiet rooms behind Prince Patio, a sunny brick and flagstone courtyard shaded by trumpet vines and adorned with roses in the summer. Customers can downshift a couple of centuries and have one of the more satisfying experiences Santa Fe has to offer –

We offer locals and visitors alike a time tested taste of the best that Northern New Mexico has to offer both in cuisine and hospitality. We are a family owned and operated business now under the managmement of the 3rd generation of Carswells. Visitors and locals returning to Santa Fe don’t feel like they have arrived in Santa Fe until they have tasted the Shed chile once again.

Additionally, please visit our sister restaurant La Choza. La Choza opened in 1983 and is thriving in the dynamic Santa Fe railyard.

Cafe Pasqual’s

Chef and owner of Cafe Pasqual's

Founder and Chef Katharine Kagel has been the guiding spirit of Cafe Pasqual’s for thirty-one years. Originally from Northern California, she later studied cooking in Japan and Hawaii, and then developed a passion for Chinese cooking. In 1978 she moved to Santa Fe and opened Cafe Pasqual’s the following year. She helped to found the international association of prepared and perishable food rescue programs, Foodchain, as well as Santa Fe’s local program, The Food Brigade, an all-volunteer organization that picks up excess foods from grocers and restaurants and delivers them to Santa Fe’s feeding programs and shelters.

Dave DeWitt- FieryFoods


Dave DeWitt, aka “The Pope of Peppers,” is one of the foremost authorities in the world on chile peppers and spicy foods. Dave researched and wrote numerous magazine and newspaper articles on chile peppers in the late1970s. In 1984, St. Martin’s Press published his first cookbook, The Fiery Cuisines, co-authored with Nancy Gerlach. That book is still in print more than seventeen years later by Ten Speed Press. In 1987, Dave and Nancy approached a local publisher, and the three launched Chile Pepper magazine with a mere 212 subscribers. By 1995, with Dave as the editor-in-chief, the magazine had surpassed 50,000 subscribers with a total circulation exceeding 80,000. The magazine was sold in1996 and Dave launched Fiery Foods & Barbecue Business Magazine, a trade publication. That magazine was converted to a consumer publication, Fiery Foods & BBQ, in 2002.

The earlier Chile Pepper magazine project led to numerous books, including The Whole Chile Pepper Book (Little, Brown, 1990), which now has more than 100,000 copies in print and recently had its tenth printing. Dave has 31 published books to his credit and continues to write books at the rate of one or two a year. He is also producer of the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show, the trade show for the multi-billion dollar Fiery Foods and Barbecue industries, now in its 17th year. His book The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia (William Morrow, 1999) won the award “Best Spice Book in English” at the 1999 World Cookbook Awards at Versailles. His latest book, again with Nancy Gerlach, is Barbecue Inferno: Cooking with Chile Peppers on the Grill (Ten Speed Press, 2001). His next book will be The Spicy Food Lover’s Bible (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2005).

Other notable books by Dave and his co-authors include: The Pepper Garden, Peppers of the World, Hot & Spicy & Meatless, The Healing Powers of Peppers, and The Hot Sauce Bible. In 1995, his book, A World of Curries, was nominated for a James Beard Award. Dave is co-producer, writer, and host of Heat Up Your Life!, a three-part video documentary series on chile peppers and spicy foods that will run on PBS or a cable channel. He is also publisher of the Fiery Foods & Barbecue Super Site, at, with more than one million visitors a year.

National TV appearances for Dave include “American Journal,” Cable News Network, “The Today Show,” “Home with Gary Collins,” “Scientific AmericanFrontiers,” “Smart Solutions,” and “CBS Sunday Morning.” He has also been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, American Way, Smithsonian, and approximately 200 newspapers across the country.

Jim and John Thomas – Owners El Pinto 

Twin brothers Jim and John Thomas purchased the El Pinto restaurant from their parents in 1994 and continue to use the same family recipes created by their grandmother, Josephina Chavez-Griggs. To build on the success of the restaurant and to meet the strong demand for their sauces, Jim and John were motivated to produce them for retail distribution.

They started the El Pinto Foods’ salsa division in 2000, so people throughout the country could enjoy El Pinto Salsa and Green Chile Sauce at home. The brothers’ first production site consisted of a 35 gallon kettle and a pump in the kitchen. Today, El Pinto uses 120 tons of chiles a year, makes 2,000 cases a day and have the capacity to make 3-4 million jars a year in their 8,000 square foot salsa production facility which is attached to the El Pinto restaurant.

The quality of El Pinto products begins with the chile. To Jim and John quality control is critical and they compare chile to a fine wine – something that needs to be handled with care. To keep the original flavor, all chiles used in the El Pinto products are grown exclusively to El Pinto specifications and roasted in the same way El Pinto has been roasting them for the past 35 years. In addition, El Pinto only processes jalapeños while they’re in season to ensure optimal quality. To guarantee product quality, all growers are monitored and seeds as well as growing conditions are analyzed throughout the season. As a result from working directly with the growers and giving them the necessary feedback to produce an excellent chile made to El Pinto specifications, Jim and John are able to produce a high quality consistent product.

El Pinto products are prepared using steam injection, pasteurization and a quick cool procedure in order to seal in the roasted flavor and guarantee the highest quality possible.
Matt Romero – Chile Farmer in Alcalde northern New Mexico 
Matt Romero spent many years as an executive chef before giving it up to start farming eight years ago. He started by caretaking a ten-acre farm before getting access to his uncle’s 3-acre tract, a tractor and tools. His first farmer’s market was Los Alamos and he says he was a ‘very small vendor” there, but he didn’t stay small. Matt got some family members and friends to ‘lend’ him their fallow tracts – 4 ½ acres in Dixon and two 3-acre parcels in Alcalde. In return for the loan Matt farms the land, improves it and keeps it productive. Matt is now one of the largest vegetable vendors at the Santa Fe and Los Alamos markets.

Matt raises chili, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, cabbages, herbs and many other types of produce on his small farms. He is very concerned about providing a top-quality product to the consumers. From his chef days, “I know what the high-end crowd prefers when they go out to eat”, he says. Flavor is the number one concern. People are interested in specialty produce picked at its peak stage, with super high quality and freshness. The varieties Matt grows are not the supermarket varieties designed to be picked ‘green’ and shipped long distances without bruising, but the older, more ‘fragile’ varieties that still have that intense, old-fashioned flavor.

“Our whole system of supplying food is wrong”, says Matt. He invites people to visit his farms and see real food growing in real circumstances, without chemical sprays, with all the little flaws naturally-growing food picks up. Matt feels it is important to keep the small farms alive; children can experience what fresh food really is. “We practice sustainable agriculture [on our farms]“, says Matt. “It’s important for people to know how we grow food and why we do it.”

Leona Medina-Tiede- Restaurant owner

Is the eldest daughter in a Chimayo family of eleven, remembers helping her uncle run a food stand during the summer and then working with her mother to sell steaming bowls of posole and fresh tortillas to the pilgrims journeying to the Holy Shrine of Santuario de Nuestro Senor de Esquipulas during the week before Easter.
The pleasure that she took in preparing the food and feeding the hungry pilgrims remain with her to this day and her restaurant is founded on the love and care that she shares with all visitors.

In 1977 Leona started a roadside stand along New Mexico Highway 76 in Chimayo serving the flavorful food that she learned from her mother. Her reputation for excellence and deep commitment to quality service quickly grew and, as the Santuario became more popular, she and her husband, Dennis, converted a storage shed next to Leona’s childhood home and adjoining the Santuario into a take-out restaurant, staffing it with family members.

From its beginning the restaurant has been strictly a family affair. It is in their blood. Even son, Paul, at age 9, could prepare everything they sold. To this day, during Holy Week, the entire family assembles to prepare food for the 40,000 to 50,000 walkers making the pilgrimage to the Santuario.

For many years, Leona has served the visitors to this village, knowing in her heart that long hours and quality ingredients are the key to culinary success. Despite serving many thousands of meals yearly, Leona and Dennis are committed to preparing the food in the traditional manner, using ingredients native to New Mexico whenever possible, and honoring the rich culture and heritage of the ancient Hispanic communities that lie along the northern Rio Grande Valley.

Estevan Arellano

Is a northern New Mexican poet, historian, farmer and journalist. In 2006 he translated and publised “Ancient Agriculture”, a text originally written by Gabriel Alonso de Herrera in sixteenth century Spain. This text was later brought to New Mexico and continues to influence how agriculture is practiced today.


Jimmy and Faron Lytle – Hatch NM farmers

Jimmy is a third generation chile farmer with the legacy of being the son of Jim Lytle, the founder of the Big Jim Variety of chile. Jo doesn’t really grow anything but has been blessed with the ability to sell. Jo says “I praise God that Jimmy grows a product that is addictive AND legal!!!!” Faron Lytle is a fourth generation farmer and grows the New Mexico 6-4 and the Sandia chile.