Believe it or not, El Bruno’s customers at both restaurants consume almost 30 (yes, thirty) tons of green chile in a year! And it will not be store-bought.
“I have never in my whole life cooked anything with store-bought chile,” Hazel Herrera states flatly, “I’ve never even been tempted.” As a youngster, and early on in the restaurant business, “I roasted chiles on a grill on the stove and then sat out under a tree and peeled them.”
Before refrigerators with freezers, her mother hung the roasted and peeled chiles on a line to dry, then, when it was time to cook, she would wet the chile.
For a couple of weeks every year around September, the scene out back of the Cuba Restaurant is one that has been played out all the years El Bruno's has been in business...since 1975. Anywhere from 10 to 15 women will be found sitting under a huge cottonwood tree, peeling, peeling, and peeling tons of roasted chile. Half will stay in Cuba, half will go to the restaurant in Albuquerque.
And Antonio Hernandez will be doing the roasting, as he has for the past 25 years. It’s gotten easier for Antonio, he has a couple of rotary, electric powered, gas-fired roasters now, but he still hoists a LOT of 40-pound sacks of Hatch Chile into the machines before it’s all over! And you’ll see Bruno Herrera out there, too. He’s also roasted a lot of chile in his life.
Bruno picks up the Hatch Chile a trailer load at a time and drives it to Cuba, 175 sacks per load, a little over 8 loads or about 1,500 sacks. Hazel remembers they MIGHT have used 200 sacks a year way back in 1975, when they were first starting out.
So, don’t even think the green chile you eat at El Bruno’s Restaurantes is store-bought!
“What would we do if we didn’t have green chile,” Hazel asks?
Just can’t even imagine…
Cuba: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. 7 days