Best chefs in the region compete at the Southern Arizona Salsa Challenge charity event
The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance present a benefit event featuring delicious salsa, live music, activities and silent auction – Aug. 25
Sample some of the most delicious traditional and inventive salsa recipes, right in the region of the world where this flavorful sauce was first stirred up.
Food, fiestas and fun for all ages will fill up the Southern Arizona Salsa Challenge on Saturday, Aug. 25 from 5 to 10 p.m. at the La Encantada shopping center, northwest corner of Skyline Drive and Campbell Avenue. This second annual event, presented by Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA) and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, celebrates Hispanic heritage in the Southwest and was a sell-out event last year.
The Salsa Challenge features more than 30 different salsa recipes to sample, live mariachi and flamenco music, a silent auction and activities, all set in La Encantada’s beautiful garden courtyard.
An amateur salsa competition will add spice to the challenge, giving up to 10 finalists from the Art Institute a chance to win awards for their unique recipes without competing against professional chefs. This will be a great opportunity for culinary students to showcase their gifts and talents and network within the community.
During the event, a judging panel will select winners of the amateur and professional salsa competition, which will be awarded at the main event. Attendees will also place their own votes for the People’s Choice awards.
Tickets are $20 per person, which includes chips, salsa tastings and access to all the festivities. Proceeds will benefit the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and SAACA’s community and educational arts programs.
Restaurants will serve their most delicious recipes to compete for the 2012 Southern Arizona Salsa Challenge, bringing some of the area’s most famous chefs to the table.
Chef Albert Hall of Acacia is an Arizona native, well-known for his unique culinary style and caustic outlook on the world in general. “Gabacho” has lived in Tucson for 16 years and has burned food at several prestigious Tucson eateries. His infamous Gabacho Salsa is the perfect example of true Latin flavors gone to hell in a hand basket. Years in the making, Chef Hall has gabachoized many classic family salsa recipes to arrive at the perfect blend of Latin ingredients imported from Canada and other exotic locations. He is known as the “Godfather of Haut Sonoran Cuisine” by the ladies that make the tortillas at Mission San Javier.
El Saguarito Mexican Food
Albert and Blanca Vasquez and their children Jacqueline, Albert Jr. and Emilio, have brought healthier Mexican dining to Tucson since 1989. The family’s roots in Mexican cooking span generations. Blanca grew up in a Douglas, Ariz., at a restaurant where her mother, Maria Herrera, cooked what was voted the best Mexican food in the state. Blanca learned to cook alongside her mother, and her love of making hungry customers happy was born. Albert, a native Tucsonan, loved home-style Mexican food. Because Mexican food is often prepared with lard, it was a challenge to find restaurants where Blanca, who was vegetarian, could eat. So in 1989, Albert and Blanca opened El Saguarito Mexican Food. Maria was behind the stove again, helping create El Saguarito’s signature dishes. The Vasquez family prepares their dishes with only the freshest ingredients, using canola oil instead of lard, and are pleased to share their authentic and healthy Mexican cuisine with the community.
Lodge on the Desert
The restaurant at Lodge on the Desert offers one of the best dining options in Southern Arizona, with new American cuisine. The decor is intimate and richly historic. Executive Chef Ryan Clark blends flavors from America’s melting pot with cooking techniques both traditional and unconventional. A native Tucsonan, Clark’s farm-to-table concept and slow-food motif is an ideal complement to the casual elegance of Lodge on the Desert. After initially working as Sous Chef at Fuego Restaurant, he went on to graduate from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Graduating the dean’s list near the top of his class, Clark was selected by The American Culinary Federation as one of the top 16 junior chefs across the nation. After stints in New York City, Clark returned to Arizona where he worked under Iron Chef America winner Chef Beau MacMillan at Elements Restaurant at Sanctuary Resort in Paradise Valley. He ventured back to Tucson where he seasoned his culinary background at Canyon Ranch Health Resort and The Dish Bistro.
Blanco Tacos + Tequila
Boca Tacos Y Tequila
California Pizza Kitchen
La Fuente Restaurant
Las Cazuelitas de Tucson
Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen
R&R Family Kitchen
Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain
Salud! at JW Marriott
Tequila Factory at Casino Del Sol
The Grill at Hacienda Del Sol
Live performances from Ballet Folklorico La Paloma and flamenco sensation Tesoro will entertain audiences as a silent auction, giveaways and dancing fill the garden courtyard.
Recently performing at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Ballet Folkorico La Paloma is a non-profit organization dedicated to perpetuating the native folk dances of Mexico. By doing so, they hope to arouse pride and heritage in the Mexican-American community, through their colorful and entertaining performances. Ballet Folklorico La Paloma has responded to the need of positive and responsive programs for young people in our community since 1982. The group has performed throughout Tucson, surrounding towns, the United States and Mexico as well as participated in the Summer Olympics in Sydney Australia.
Tesoro, meaning “treasure” in Spanish, has a unique sound that captivates even the most sophisticated flamenco purists and enthusiasts. With rock, blues and jazz influences, the group takes flamenco fusion to a new level. Their sound is dynamic, energetic and romantic. Each member brings many musical influences to create the unique sound that has made Tesoro a must see. Some major influences include Paco de Lucia, Vicente Amigo, Mana, The Gipsy Kings and The Buena Vista Social Club.
The Southern Arizona Tequila Challenge will also take place during the Salsa Challenge, presenting the regions’ most creative chef’s presenting unique interpretations of original tequila-based mixed drinks.
Tequila tastings will take place in the upstairs courtyards, where attendees can overlook beautiful city lights. Tickets are $70 per person, which includes admission to the Salsa Challenge, tequila cocktails, Latin-inspired food pairing from more than 20 restaurants and tequila samplings award-winning distilleries.
2012 Southern Arizona Salsa & Tequila Challenge
When: Saturday, Aug. 25 from 5 to 10 p.m.
Where: La Encantada Shopping Center, northwest corner of Skyline Drive and Campbell Avenue
Salsa Challenge tickets: $20 per person – tickets include salsa tastings, chips (free admission to courtyard concerts)
Tequila Challenge tickets: $70 per person – tickets include salsa tastings and chips (for the Salsa Challenge), unique tequila samplings, cocktails and Latin-inspired appetizers
Phone: (520) 797-3959
About the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance
The Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA) is a not-for-profit organization that exists to ensure that, through engagement in arts and culture, our communities produce strong, inspired citizens. SAACA enlists artists, businesses, governments, and individuals to expand artistic and cultural opportunities in their respective communities. To enhance access to the arts and to promote cultural awareness in the communities it serves, SAACA presents large-scale festivals, events and other programs. The Alliance also promotes educational opportunities in the arts and culture for both the young and the old.
The Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA) grew out of the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council (GOVAC), an organization established in 1997 to provide artistic and cultural opportunities for residents of northwest Tucson. GOVAC eventually became one of the largest arts organizations in the region. In 2009, owing to its success, the group expanded its mission to include creation of partnerships with business, governments, and communities throughout Southern Arizona that would encourage innovative, creative cultural expression in the arts for years to come.
For more information about programs and events produced by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, go to www.saaca.org.