Since 2012, Los Roast has been committed to providing a source of New Mexico grown green chile to Portland, OR and beyond. Owners Jesse Sandoval and Marshall Berg met through a mutual love and passion for their home-state’s famous cuisine.
Jesse, originally from Albuquerque, moved to Portland for his career in music. He started the food cart Nuevo Mexico in 2009. Jesse grew up working at his family’s food stand as they traveled to the various fiestas around New Mexico. With Nuevo Mexico, he was able to dust off the family recipe book to introduce some spice to a new community.
Marshall moved from Santa Fe to Portland in 2008 to attend the Pacific Northwest College of Art. He graduated in 2013. Like most New Mexicans who move away, what he missed most was green chile. The only person who had it in town was Jesse Sandoval. Marshall petitioned to be a part of Nuevo Mexico to share the love of green chile and satisfy his breakfast burrito cravings.
Nuevo Mexico received rave reviews in local and national press, and became hugely popular. However, finding a local supplier for the most important ingredient was impossible; shipping small quantities of frozen green chile was unpredictable and insanely expensive. In a last ditch effort to stockpile chile, Marshall built the first Los Roast roaster in the metal shop at PNCA, and brought it to the cart to try and roast enough chile to last through the winter. While, they were unsuccessful in saving the cart, they saw that Portland was in desperate need of chile, and their roaster was the solution.
"We're growing to fill the gap in quality and accessibility of New Mexico chile. We plan on revolutionizing the chile market, while keeping New Mexico tradition and pride at the forefront of our innovation."
Los Roast had its first season the following year. After welding the roaster into a truck bed for mobility, Marshall ordered a ton of chile (literally!) from Hatch, which was delivered to Jesse’s driveway. They roasted non-stop for the short harvest season and toured the roaster at local street fairs.
With the forward momentum from the seasonal operations and time spent developing relationships and recipes in New Mexico, Los Roast became a year-round company in 2014 when they launched a shelf-stable product line. Now a steady stream of roasted, peeled, and chopped green chile makes its way to the Northwest. Los Roast became the first company operating outside of New Mexico to have their green chile verified by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. It is currently the only out-of-state company producing New Mexico Certified chile.
At first, people thought it was too good to be true. However, once they tasted the subtlety growing spice and the fullness of flavor that can only be accomplished by chile grown in New Mexico, Los Roast's brand of chile was quickly picked up by Portland’s independent grocers including New Seasons Markets, and local restaurants. The chile was used in The Oregonian’s #1 and #2 “Five Best Green Chile Cheese Burgers in Portland.” Los Roast's hot green chile was one of The Portland Monthly Food Lover’s Guide “Kitchen Pantry Essentials.” During the 2014 roasting season, The Portland Business Journal featured a Los Roast cover story, detailing the companies quick growth as well as the quality and pride put in to its product.
Now Los Roast has expanded its network of family farms and shipped branded boxes of fresh chile directly from the fields in Dona Ana and Luna counties to wholesalers in the Northwest. A major ramp up in seasonal production was accomplished through a Community Sourced Capital loan, which funded a commercial kitchen to process chile and further grow the product line. Los Roast is also in the process of patenting custom designed chile roasters, which are safer, more efficient, and easier to operate in an effort to bring seasonal chile roasting to grocers throughout the country.