Wild & Crazy Taco Night: OC Chefs Donate Time, Talent and Offbeat Tacos

Chefs, Event By Apr 21, 2012

More than twenty local chefs showed off their offbeat tacos at the 19th Annual SOS Wild & Crazy Taco Night Thursday.

The Share Our Selves’ event was held at the charity’s headquarters in Costa Mesa. Share Our Selves, or SOS, is a nonprofit organization that provides food and medical, dental and financial aid to those in need.

Most often, tacos are a familiar mix of meat, sauce and veggies – straightforward trios of complementary flavors clothed in warm tortillas. But this charity fundraiser seems to bring out a chef’s adventurous side.

Culinary joviality reigns. Chefs grin and guests gobble. Chef Alan Greeley, The Golden Truffle, cooked up some smoked alligator tacos.

Chef Alessandro Pirozzi, Alessa, made a filling of braised oxtail with cipolline agro dolce (but, as with the other chefs, you gotta watch the video to hear him talk about it …  so good). And Chefs Tanya Fuqua and Mark Cleveland, Avanti Cafe, whipped up some organic corn polenta with perky slaw dressed with harissa sauce and zhug.

Chef Deb Schneider, SOL, made roasted sweet potato and black bean tacos (recipe follows).

Chef Greg Daniels, taco asylum, threw caution to the wind and tuned up his tacos with all “things” duck, including duck “fries” (testicles).

Chef Franco Barone, Il Barone Ristorante, made small “burrito-esque” cannelloni.

Chef Paul Buchanan, Primal Alchemy Catering, made turkey mole with sweet corn pudding and prickly pear crema.

And there’s more. Chef Carlito Jacson, Yard House, made carnitas with fresh pineapple and chicharones.

His brother, Chef Louie Jocson, The Red Table, made yuzu crab ceviche wrapped in thinly sliced Bordeaux radish “wrappers.”

Pastry Chef Rachel Klemek, Blackmarket Bakery, made glorious desserts filled with fresh fruit.

Chef David Man, Island Hotel, filled tacos with Al Pastor chicken and cotija cheese.

Chef Marco Zapien, Melissa’s Produce. made vegetarian chile verde tacos with soy, onions, pepper, cabbage and cotija.

And Chef Ryan Wilson, Five Crowns, made grassfed-steak tartar with horseradish hollandaise and  upland cress.

For the camera, I had great fun talking to the chefs to find out about their ingredients and techniques. Be sure to watch the video to find out some of their secrets. Meanwhile, here’s a recipe from Chef Deborah Schneider, who prepared delectable sweet potato-spiked tacos at the event.

Sol’s Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Yield: 6 servings, 12 tacos

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use

1 white onion, diced

1 large poblano chili or green bell pepper, seeded and diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided use

1 medium orange sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Vegetable oil

2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Oaxaca or Monterey Jack cheese

Chipotle sauce

Pico de gallo (or fresh chunky salsa)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a heavy ovenproof skillet (cast iron is ideal) over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan, then onion and poblano chili or green pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized. Stir in garlic and 1 teaspoon salt; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, toss sweet potato with remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add to skillet and cook, stirring, 1 minute, then place pan in oven and roast 15 minutes (be careful, remember that the handle is hot).

3. Meanwhile, prepare tortillas dorado: Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Brush 1 side of a tortilla lightly with oil and place oil side down in pan. Scatter a generous spoonful of cheese over center of tortilla and cook until cheese is melted and tortilla is lightly golden on the underside but still flexible. Place on a cookie sheet and repeat with remaining tortillas and cheese. When finished, lightly oil a piece of foil and use it to cover tortillas.

4. Remove skillet from oven and stir in black beans and black pepper (beans will warm through from the heat of the pan). Top each tortilla with sweet potato mixture, a drizzle of chipotle sauce, and a spoonful of pico de gallo (if using).

Source: Deborah Schneider, executive chef-partner SOL, Newport Beach, as seen in Schneider’s article in O, The Oprah Magazine, Feb 2012



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