Incredible food and drink were served while raising money for community arts programs in Southern Arizona.
The Salsa, Tequila & Taco Challenge owned Labor Day Weekend in Southern Arizona as Tucson's culinary scene, once again, wowed participants with amazing flavors and inventive culinary creations.
With more than 1,400 attendees, 40 participating restaurants, chefs, brewers and distillers, and nearly 100 recipes judged, the Salsa,Tequila & Taco Challenge brought a rainbow of Southwest inspired dishes and spirits to the La Encantada Shopping Center.
As attendees enjoyed the appetizing offerings of some of Tucon's best restaurants, this signature culinary fundraiser for Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA) raised more than $44,000 for the lead nonprofit, the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, as well as funding for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona charity.
The throw down was particularly intense this year with the addition of tacos to the contest.
Attendees were given voting chips upon admission to choose their favorite entry in each category. Selecting a favorite was particularly difficult among all of the brilliant contributions of savory and sweet delights.
The sounds of Mariachi Estrellas de Tucson set the festive tone by opening the evening on a high note. Orquesta Salsarengue took to the stage next and truly engaged the huge crowd and kept the dance floor grooving all evening.
The judges panel contributed their foodie expertise to select the outstanding winners on Sunday night. The panel included:
Art Jiminez, Sysco
Rich Engberg, Station Manager/Director of Sales at KMSB-TV(FOX)
Chef Danny Perez, Shamrock Foods
Chef Kenneth Foy, Dante's Fire
Chef Ariana Olivas
Michael McDonald, President, Community Food Bank
Chef Wendy Gaultier, Chef Chic
Logan Burch, Writer Tucson Local Media
Natalie Morris, Local First Arizona Director of Food Initiatives
Sebastian Galvanduque, Mexican Consulate
Melanie Larson, Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance Board of Director
Chef Travis Peters, Parish Kitchen
Lea Marquez Peterson, President Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Chef Marco Parra, Community Food Bank & Caridad Community Kitchen
Andi Berlin, Arizona Daily Star Writer & Digital Media
Chef Mat Cable, Fresco Pasta & Pizzeria & Tucson Originals
Kim Fernandez, Waddell & Reed (SAACA Board of Director)
Celestino Fernandez, University of Arizona
And the winners are:
Salsa Challenge - People's Choice Awards
1st Place Salsa: Angie's Kick Ass Salsa -- Hot Salsa
2nd Place Salsa: Santiago's --Santiago's Salsa Brava
3rd Place Salsa: Angie's Gourmet to Go -- Smoky Mesquite Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Salsa Challenge - Judges Awards
Best Traditional Salsa: Crossroads Restaurant -- Chipotle Salsa
Best Alternative Salsa: Tequila Factory at Casino Del Sol -- Fire & Ice
Judges Choice, Best Overall Salsa: Santiago's -- Santiago's Salsa Brava
Tequila Challenge - People's Choice Awards
1st Place Tequila Cocktail: Reforma Modern Mexican, Mezcal & Tequila --Blood Orange Margarita
2nd Place Tequila Cocktail: Queen Ceviche, -- La Reina Margarita
3rd Place Tequila Cocktail: The Lodge at Ventana Canyon -- Carlos' Sangria
Tequila Challenge - Judges Awards
Grand Reserve Tequila Tasting: Embajador -- Tequila Supreme
Most Creative Cocktail: 3 Amigos Tequila -- Cucumber Jicama Margarita
Best Overall Tequila Cocktail: Queen Ceviche -- La Reina Margarity
Taco Challenge - People's Choice Awards
1st Place Taco: Santiago's -- Short Rib Taco
2nd Place Taco: Epazote Kitchen and Cocktails -- Lamb Barbacoa Taco
3rd Place Taco: The Lodge at Vantana Canyon -- Dessert Taco
Taco Challenge - Judges Award: Epazote Kitchen -- Lamb Barbacoa Taco
2017 Southern Arizona Salsa, Tequila & Taco Challenge
When: Sunday, September 3, 2017 at 7:00pm.
Where: La Encantada Shopping Center, northwest corner of Skyline Drive and Campbell
Cost: $55 per person (21+ Event)
Phone: (520) 797-3959
NOTE TO MEDIA: Photos available
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 all ages.
For more information about programs and events produced by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, go to www.saaca.org.