Dining With Denise Neil

Second ChileHead competition will spotlight Hatch chiles

It’s Hatch green chile time at Johnson’s Garden Centers.
It’s Hatch green chile time at Johnson’s Garden Centers. File photo

Marty Johnson, owner of Johnson’s Garden Centers, has begun his annual August treks to to keep Wichita stocked with green chiles from Hatch, N.M.

And on Saturday, local chile fans can try some dishes made with the peppers and sample craft brews that pair well with them.

Johnson is putting on his 13th annual Chile Fest on Saturday and Sunday, during which customers at all three locations can stock up on Hatch green chiles and watch them being roasted. The three Johnson’s Garden Centers are at 2707 W. 13th St., 802 N. Ridge and 6225 E. Shadybrook

On Saturday, they also can participate in the Second Annual Iron ChileHead competition at the West 13th Street store, which asks local food truck operators to prepare dishes using the chiles. A panel of judges, including me, will choose a winner. The food trucks participating are B.S. Sandwich Press, Let’M eat Brats, Hopperoni Express, Park-n-Pork and Chino’s Parilla. (Last year’s winner was Roni Attari, who at the time was operating the since-closed Hopping Pita food truck and prepared several delicious items, including green chile hummus.)

People who visit can buy dishes from the food trucks and get free samples of beers made by local brewers using green chiles. The participating breweries are Central Standard Brewing, Hank is Wiser Brewery, Hopping Gnome Brewing, River City Brewing, Walnut River Brewing and Wichita Brewing Co.

The Iron ChileHead competition is from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free.

The Chile Fest is going on Saturday and Sunday at all three Johnson’s. Peppers are available at 20 to a plastic bag for $7.99 and are available either roasted or unroasted. They’re available in larger quantities as well and can be turned into dishes such as chile verde, chile rellenos, salsa verde and more.

Here’s a story I wrote last year about Johnson’s dedication to keeping Wichita in chiles through the fall.