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Gigantic enchilada back on Las Cruces festival menu

Robert Estrada prepares one of his gigantic enchiladas for the Whole Enchilada Festival in Las Cruces in this file photo.
Robert Estrada prepares one of his gigantic enchiladas for the Whole Enchilada Festival in Las Cruces in this file photo.
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The owner of Roberto’s Mexican Food in Las Cruces says he is ready to again break out his huge “placa” to make a massive, 10 1/2-foot-wide enchilada, thanks to the generosity of the community and the skill of an old friend.

Placa, a Spanish word for heated board or plate, is used to make the world’s largest flat enchilada. New equipment to heat the placa is ready, and that means the menu for this year’s Whole Enchilada Fiesta – Sept. 27-29 – is set.

The enchilada will be cooked at the Hadley Complex. Because of equipment problems in 2012, the enchilada was a no-show – the second time in 32 years it couldn’t be prepared.

Robert Estrada, who has provided his own custom-made equipment to make the enchilada, was required by the state to replace the burner he used for years to craft the massive delicacy.

The cost to replace the old burner was expected to be a major expense, so much so that a bank account was set up for donations. Numerous residents and organizations wrote checks to offset the cost of replacing the old burner.

An outpouring of support drove donations to more than $15,000. Among those was the donation of friend Steve Peña, owner of Valley Plumbing Heating Cooling, who donated labor and materials to construct a new set of burners.

As a result of Peña’s contribution, none of the funds raised have been needed. The bank account was closed Friday, and the funds will remain in a savings account for any future upgrades or repairs to equipment.

“I would like to thank each and every one who donated to the equipment fund,” Estrada said. “May God continue to bless you. We look forward to a successful 33rd year of the Whole Enchilada Fiesta.”

Estrada admitted he was touched by efforts to bring back his famous enchilada.

“I’m so incredibly humbled by the community’s support,” he said.

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