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NMSU's Chile Pepper Institute to be featured on Food Network

A Food Network program about New Mexico chile will tempt the taste buds of millions of television viewers across the country Friday, March 3.

An episode of the "Unwrapped" program - called "Atomic!" - focuses on the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University. It will air at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT (8:30 p.m. for those whose cable or satellite service follows Mountain time).

Last summer, a film crew from the Food Network interviewed NMSU Regents Professor Paul Bosland at the institute's Center for Chile Education. Bosland and institute program coordinator Danise Coon were interviewed at the institute's Teaching and Demonstration Garden at the Fabian Garcia Horticulture Farm in Las Cruces.

"They were most interested in what's new, what's unique and what's interesting, things people are going to go ooh and aah over," said Coon.

They were particularly interested in the hottest habanero chile peppers in the world, and a much milder variety of habanero chile that retains the unique habanero flavors without the heat. The pepper, "NuMex Suave," was developed at NMSU by Bosland and former senior research specialist Eric Votava.

Bosland, a longtime chile pepper researcher for NMSU's Agricultural Experiment Station and director of the institute, said the Food Network publicity can help the university and the chile industry in New Mexico. "Unwrapped" is seen by about 25 million viewers.

"A nationally broadcast show like this is good PR for us," Bosland said. "Multi-millions will view the show and associate it with this university."

Bosland said the exposure also helps familiarize potential students with the university and its research. No matter what field of study may interest them, young people looking for a university will learn a little about NMSU while watching the program.

"If chile's the hook that gets their interest, that's great," Bosland said.

A plug for New Mexico's chile growers is another plus.

"We always want people to perceive that chile from New Mexico is the best," Bosland said. "That helps our industry, too."

The Food Network program is the latest in a stream of publicity for the institute. Bosland said a correspondent from Japan filmed a program at the institute last year and a writer from Gourmet magazine will do an interview in April.

Darrell J. Pehr
March 1, 2006