Restaurant’s chili sauce featured in recipe

By Eric Butler: PNT staff writer

Praise in New Mexico Magazine has set the market on fire for a green chili sauce a Portales family created and sells, and Sunland Inc. peanut products shine through similar “earned publicity.”

In the August issue of New Mexico Magazine, the green chili sauce produced by El Rancho Restaurant in Portales was featured in a recipe — and praised.

“It’s been on the stands for a couple of weeks, and we’ve been getting orders non-stop from all across the country, from people who are homesick,” said Joey Garcia, who owns the restaurant with parents Ruben and Sara Garcia. “From people who have moved away from New Mexico, orders have been flying in.”

The green chili sauce, whose creation is credited to Joey’s grandmother Josie Garcia, is one of five products the Portales eatery produces and sells. Also available are a red chili sauce and three kinds of salsa (mild, medium and hot).

It was in a recipe for an Indian Taco dish that author and chef Lois Ellen Frank of Santa Fe specifically points out the sauce produced by the Garcia family.

Joey Garcia met Frank while entering his sauce into competition at the annual Fiery Foods Show held in Albuquerque. Frank, who owns a catering company, bought some of the green chili sauce and began using it for her own business.

“From there, we’ve kind of had a little bit of a relationship,” Garcia said.

Another Portales business that has received positive press for its creations is Sunland Inc. peanut company.

Jimmie Shearer, CEO at Sunland, said his company won first place for its Banana Butter in a December 2007 issue of Shape Magazine and also took first in an October ’07 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.

Actually, Shearer felt that Sunland got first and second in the Better Homes and Gardens contest.

“Our natural butter won first place, and we sell peanuts to the guy that got second place,” he said.

Shearer said food shows will sometimes call to see if Sunland wants to enter its product in a competition. It’s an opportunity that he said his company has never passed up because one never knows where it might lead.

“It’s great exposure. It helped our Web site sales, and you never know how many other people will have seen it,” Shearer said. “You can have a major buyer at a grocery store see it (the magazine) and take an interest.”