Meet Mama Ortega, our founder...
The 150 year Ortega tradition all started with Maria Conception Jacinta Dominguez Ortega, or as we like to call her, Mama. Mama Ortega
In the 1800's Mama and her beloved family lived in a small three-room adobe, common to the Spanish settlements of the time. Inside the thick adobe walls, Mama Ortega created a loving home for her 13 children (yes, 13!) centered around the tiny kitchen. With all those kids to feed, dinner was a major feat indeed.
From her small charcoal-burning stove, Mama Ortega whipped up memorable meals her family loved. Everything for each meal was homegrown, handpicked and handmade.
From the juicy red tomatoes for her sauces, to the corn she patted into mouthwatering tortillas, everything Mama lovingly prepared for her family was fresh. Each dish was special. And like today, meals were a time for Mama and her family to come together, enjoy good food and entertain each other with stories of their day. Home cooked meals have a way of bringing people together like that.
Mama's memorable cooking did more than just bring her family together. It was in Mama's kitchen that her 11th child, Emilio, established the Ortega Chile Packing Company. Yep, the first commercial food operation in the state of California was created in the same place Mama created all those unforgettable meals. It might be one hundred and fifty years later, but we're still inspired by Mama's cooking. And we hope you will be, too.
It all started with chile peppers.
Emilio's fascination with chiles began when he moved to New Mexico in 1890. Here he encountered the state's popular big red chiles.
Emilio discovered he preferred this chile when it was still young and green because it was tender and mild in flavor. When he returned home to California a few years later, he brought with him chile pepper seeds and many recipes for dishes he had grown to love while in New Mexico. Back home with his family at their adobe house in Ventura, California, Emilio planted the chile seeds. Those chiles grew extremely well in the temperature climate of Ventura. Soon Emilio had so many chiles he had to give them away. Everyone loved them! That's when he knew he had something special.
Emilio learned that if the green chiles were roasted, peeled, seeded and washed, they could be preserved in jars for some time. But since glass was difficult to handle, Emilio worked out a way to use cans instead. He founded the Ortega Chile Packaging Company; the first commercial food operation in the state of California!
Emilio worked hard to grow the highest quality chiles so when people in the grocery store selected chiles or his salsa, they knew they were buying the best.
In 1946, the Ortega family sold the business and the new owners continued to build and modernize the business.
In 2003, B&G Foods purchased the Ortega brand. Like Emilio Ortega, B&G Foods has a long tradition of commitment to quality. So today, when a family picks up a can of chiles or a box of taco shells, they know they are getting the very best. This web site has been created to continue the rich heritage of the Ortega family. By sharing our collection of delicious Mexican recipes, we hope to help you create fond memories of great meals shared with your family.
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