The 2nd Annual Tucson 23 – A Mexican Food Festival is set to make this Saturday one of the most unforgettable culinary experiences of the summer. Before the main event kicks off, we’re happy to have one of Tucson’s great chefs serving up an exclusive VIP dinner experience on Friday night, June 16th. We sat down with the Executive Chef of Elvira’s Restaurant – Downtown Tucson, Michael Byrer, to discuss what inspiration went into some of the night’s delicious courses and what kinds of unique pairings you can expect to find.
Southwestern and Mexican cooking is iconic thanks to so many delectable ingredients, but few are as well-known as dried chilies and nopales. Whether paired together or separately, Byrer promises to infuse these ingredients into many of the courses in ways that are both delightfully unfamiliar and comforting. “We want our guests to walk away feeling like they got a chance to experience Mexican and Southwestern flavors in a new way without omitting the comforting familiar ingredients of the region,” says Byrer, “Infusing classical dishes from around the world like duck confit with the spice of Mexican cuisine is something you won’t experience anywhere else in the country.” Byrer prides himself on bringing world cuisine into the culture of our traditional Tucson offerings with a bang. “One of our most unique dishes we’re serving tonight is a Scallop Ceviche with a Lemon Grass, Wasabi, and Lime Broth, with a side of Chayote Squash topped with Chili Oil and Fried Shallots.”
Byrer was eager to get back to completing his menu for this amazing Friday night, but before we let him go we asked what he would want his guests to remember going into this VIP dinner. “The most important thing to remember with our dishes is Spice and Balance. Those two words are more important than anything. Nailing that balance between heat and our other flavors takes an amazing amount of practice and trial and error.” Friday’s VIP Dinner is sure to please so don’t miss out! Limited seating is still available to so make your reservation now! Call (520) 791-6064 for tickets and details.
With just one week to go before the 2nd Annual Tucson 23 – A Mexican Food Festival kicks off, we’re continuing to delve deeper into some of our featured local chefs set to dazzle your palette at this year’s festival. This week we sat down with the sweet tooth expert herself and owner of Churros el Rey, Perla Dow, to discuss what makes churros so iconic and what it’s like starting up a food truck from scratch.
For many residents of the Southwest, there’s nothing more iconic in the summer time than the sweet joys of a warm sugary churro. “When I was growing up, we would go to the fair and the first thing you look for is churros,” says Perla, reminiscing on her childhood love of the classic treat. “If you go there during the Day of the Dead in particular you’ll find 20 churro stands and it’s so exciting. They just make people’s day.” Whether you get them from the fair or a food truck, the ever-present and growing line of sweet tooth fanatics patiently waiting is a clear sign you’ve found great churros. Perla got to experience what people are willing to do for truly amazing churro first hand when she first opened Churros el Rey. “When we first started, I put up a lot of ads on Facebook announcing when we were going to open. When we finally opened, it was August 1st and it was really hot, we didn’t have shade on our truck yet and there was a lot of mosquitoes which I didn’t expect. Then our dough machine broke before we even started and there was a lot of people, but everyone was very patient. They’ll come from far away to try good churros, we just had someone tell us that they came from Fresno, California to try our churros.”
Even with a rough start to her new business, Perla pushed on, eventually getting herself and her guests some more than welcome shade and buying a fresh new dough machine to help keep up with her growing lines of fans. It’s more than just her love for this comforting desert that inspired Perla to start Churros el Rey from scratch though, it’s about something much closer to her heart. “It really started with our mother. She is getting old and it’s getting time for us to look after her. We started everything from scratch, it’s been very motivating knowing that we’ve been able to do everything by ourselves. This is a first-generation business and it’s just a great way to let our grandmother stop working finally and relax in her older years.”
Many food trucks settle for the traditional churro served warm out of a paper bag, but at Churros el Rey, variety is key to their unique style. Every topping from the classic caramel and chocolate to the livelier addition of Pineapple, Cream Cheese, or Sweetened Milk are all waiting to top their delicious churros. If you’re really looking to go all in, stick your spoon into a decadent Churro Sundae dressed with two of your favorite toppings. Is your mouth watering yet? Can’t make it out to their amazing food truck on Park and Irvington? Then don’t miss out on your chance to sample some of their amazing treats at the 2nd Annual Tucson 23 – A Mexican Food Festival at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa on Saturday, June 17th at 6:00pm. We’ll see you there!