Carmen Rocha, nachos creator was 77

Carmen Rocha waited tables at the original El Cholo on Western Avenue for nearly four decades and in El Cholo lore gets credit for introducing patrons to nachos. From Mary Rourke in the L.A. Times:

"Carmen was wonderful, to me and to everybody," actor Jack Nicholson, a longtime regular at El Cholo, said this week. "It's a community loss," he said of her death.

For a special treat Rocha sometimes went into the kitchen and made her customers an order of nachos, an item not included on the menu. She followed a recipe she learned in San Antonio, where she grew up, layering tortilla wedges, shredded cheddar cheese and slices of jalapeņo pepper, warming the dish in the oven. Before long she had requests from all over the dining room and her nachos were added to the menu.

"Carmen Rocha introduced an iconic dish and helped popularize it," said Merrill Shindler, who wrote "El Cholo Cookbook: Recipes and Lore from California's Best Loved Mexican Kitchen" in 1998. "Now, everybody eats nachos. If they were called 'Carmens,' not nachos, her name would be remembered forever."

Rocha died Oct. 9 of cancer.

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