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Las Cruces, New Mexico – The New Mexico Department of Agriculture has named the Chef Ambassadors for the first-ever NEW MEXICO—Taste the Tradition® (NM-TTT) Chef Ambassador Program.

The ambassadors are:

  • Rocky Durham (Santa Fe) – Rocky Durham launched his career in London, England where he opened a restaurant named after his hometown of Santa Fe. Within three years of the first opening, there were Santa Fe restaurants in eight British cities. While living in England, Durham also wrote and presented two television series: Plates from the States and South of the Border. After working professionally in five continents, Durham returned to New Mexico and is currently an executive chef at the Blue Heron Restaurant at Sunrise Springs Spa Resort in Santa Fe.
  • John C. Hartley (Las Cruces) – John Hartley is currently serving as a college assistant professor in the New Mexico State University School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, teaching quantity foods courses and managing the school's 100 West Cafe. Hartley was born and raised in Las Cruces and is a graduate of New Mexico State University as well as the California Culinary Academy. Highlights of his career include cooking for President George H. W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, the Pope of the Armenian Catholic Church and numerous celebrities.

Chef AmbassadorsRocky Durham and John C. Hartley, Chef AmbassadorsThe chef ambassadors will serve a two-year term advocating for and promoting New Mexico agriculture at events such as the New Mexico State Fair and HomeGrown. In doing so, the chefs will receive exposure and recognition while providing a voice for New Mexico agriculture. Their term began Sept. 1 and ends Aug. 30, 2020.

Durham expressed his excitement in promoting unique New Mexico agricultural products and influencing positive financial growth in the agricultural sector. "As a fiercely proud, native New Mexican and life-long culinarian, I couldn't be more thrilled for this opportunity," said Durham. "It is an honor to be selected from such an incredible group of my colleagues and contemporaries."

Hartley said he is honored to be selected as a chef ambassador for the state of New Mexico. "I look forward to working with Chef Rocky and the NMDA staff to promote the incredible agricultural products from our great state and encouraging our youth to become involved with the industry," said Hartley.

As their first event, the newly-named chef ambassadors participated as judges in the New Mexico State Fair Green Chile Cheeseburger Challenge Monday, Sept. 10 in Albuquerque.

The winners of the green chile cheeseburger challenge are as follows:

  1. First place and People's Choice winner: Oso Grill (Capitan, New Mexico)
  2. Second place: Fuddruckers

For more information about the NEW MEXICO—Taste the Tradition® Chef Ambassador Program, visit newmexicotradition.com. For more information about NMDA, visit www.nmda.nmsu.edu. Like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/NMDeptAg and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @NMDeptAg.

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