Story by Jenny Paulson – Gary Geiser, owner of King’s Chef, a poplar diner with two Colorado Springs locations and a new one in Fountain, started out being most famous for his large plates of food smothered in his signature super hot green chili, which he bottled up and now sells through King Soopers, Natural Grocers, Whole Foods and more than 200 stores.
Geiser bought the original Colorado Springs iconic diner, a funky pink building named King’s Chef in 1997. He began customizing the green chili that has made his restaurant famous locally and nation-wide. His restaurant and his green chili have garnered massive local and national attention and awards including for the Best Diner, the Best Green Chili and the Best Huevos.
In 2004 King’s Chef was named the Best Diner in America in “Where He was featured on the Food Network for his famous “The Thing,” a four to five pound monster sized meal that’s been on the restaurant’s menu over 50 years, made with Texas toast, hash browns, eggs, cheese, meat and smothered green chili. King’s Chef food was featured on CBS Al Roker’s “Roker on the Road.”
Their Breakfast Burrito, made with eggs and sausage, topped with green chili or homemade country gravy, was named the tastiest breakfast in Colorado by the Food Network Magazine.
Geiser’s food isn’t considered the best without being made with what he thinks are the best chiles. As he honed his green chili recipes over time and, being picky about his chiles, he began using only green chiles grown by farmers in the Pueblo area.
“These Local small farmers grow the crops in smaller acre lots then large commercial growers,” he said. “The small acre growing allows for better richer nutrient soil which increases the flavors of these ingredients used in each jar that is created.”
Geiser’s big break commercially happened when a chef at Whole Foods Markets contacted him and said he could get his hand crafted chili into Whole Foods. Markets. This was in 2007 and Geiser has been bottling larger hand crafted batches ever since, now selling two types of green chili (one is milder than the original) and a salsa for other stores as well. He also sells the products from his website.
Many who frequent his green chili at his diner, buy bottles of it and/or his salsa to take home. They are also popular at stores and Geiser says the flavor is special, “Each batch is crafted by hand in small batches which allows the fresh ingredients to cook together and create vibrant and robust flavors that is found in every jar.”
Geiser’s original King’s Chef Hot Green Chili recipe includes green chiles, tomatoes, spices and some habaneros, some of the hottest chiles to turn up the heat. It’s now bottled as Colorado Green Chili Sauce- Hot, and since it was too hot for many customers, he created a milder version.
To create the milder version, Geiser met with Shane Milberger, owner of Milberger Farms in Pueblo County, who supplies chiles and other produce to Whole Foods and other markets. Milberger, who has six chili roasters at his farm, helped him figure out just what portion of seeds to keep in the roasted green chile, a key ingredient in what is now labeled as King’s Chili Medium Green Chili.
“We only reap the freshest produce for you and your family. By working direct with local farmers, you are ensured fresh, and always Farm to Jar goodness with our Fire Roasted Colorado Green Chile Peppers,” said Geiser of his partner farm vendors in Pueblo County.
Their Colorado Green Chili Sauce that is a Vegan, Gluten Free & Non-Gmo Project. Currently the Colorado Green Chili sauces and salsa can be found in Whole Foods markets, King Soopers, Natural Grocers and even the Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
Shane’s Milbergers Farm, six miles east of Pueblo, has expanded through the years as well. Today, while staying loyal to his local customers, he covers all aspects of produce sales to cottage industry producers, small to large produce markets, restaurants, grocery retail stores throughout Colorado, wholesale produce distributors, and commercial food manufacturers.
The farm also has their own grocery store where they sell fresh and frozen chiles, and host an in-house bakery, ice cream bar and restaurant, where they sometimes have live music and special events, such as car shows. He was involved with the establishment of the Colorado Produce Growers Association and hosts many types of organizations on the farm including Leadership Pueblo, Whole Foods Market employees, restaurant staffs, food industry executives, and local and state wide students here to learn.
King’s Chef – http://www.cosdiner.com/our-story.html
Milberger Farms – http://milbergerfarms.com