LCSN: La Posta name to head under the sea with Navy

March 24, 2010. Retrieved online: March 2010 from Sun-News report, Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES – For 70 years, La Posta has brought New Mexico cuisine to thousands of hungry customers in Mesilla.

Saturday, it will reach a new audience of hundreds – 800 feet below the surface of the sea, in a $2.7 billion dining room.

The USS New Mexico, the nation’s newest nuclear submarine, will be commissioned Saturday in Norfolk, Va., marking the vessel’s formal inclusion in the U.S. Navy’s feet. The 377-foot long, 7,800-ton fast-attack vessel is the nation’s sixth Virginia-class submarine – and the first nuclear submarine with genuine Scoville power.

La Posta owner Tom Hutchinson left for the East Coast Tuesday morning. To the menu for a 100-dignitary dinner Friday – petit filet steaks, crab cake, salad – Hutchinson is adding La Posta salsa, chile con queso, rolled red enchiladas and green chile strips to top off the entree, plus a few chile ristras and New Mexico paintings for decoration.

The restaurant won naming rights to the galley 18 months ago in a statewide restaurant competition, said Hutchinson, a Maryland native who retired from the Navy in 2002 as a captain.

The “typically rough chow” of the rest of the Navy disappeared when he spent three days on a submarine during a training cruise in the 70s, he recalled, setting the bar for his recent foray into undersea dining.

“Submariners have always been a notch above all the other facets of the Navy in terms of food preparation,” Hutchinson said. “We had some really good chow.”

This weekend, the command master chief of the submarine will also receive a $1,200 check from the sale of U.S.S. New Mexico items La Posta sells in its gift shop.

“We’ve had several mess specialists visit New Mexico and work side by side to learn our recipes,” Hutchinson said. “They’re under way six to nine months at a time. Every other week, they’ll have La Posta night and they’ll prepare a lot of our dishes.”

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