This summer, Mexican food lovers have one more reason to visit Tucson: the Salsa and Tequila Challenge.
The Salsa and Tequila Challenge is notable because it brings together some of the best chefs and mixologists in southern Arizona for an evening of sweet and spicy menu pairings. The culinary competition is a fundraiser presented by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA). Proceeds from the event will benefit SAACA and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.
This annual culinary event will take place on Saturday, August 16, at the posh La Encantada shopping center in Tucson's foothills district. Around 50 chefs and restaurants will be in attendance, creating unique salsa recipes and tequila-based drinks in the spirit of friendly competition and two local charities.
More than 50 chefs and restaurants will prepare unique salsas and tequila-based drinks at this year's Salsa and Tequila Challenge in Tucson — Photo courtesy of Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance
Whether you like your salsa red, green, hot, mild or fruity, chances are you'll find a new twist on an old favorite during this celebration of food and drink. Event attendees will even have the opportunity to sample one-of-kind pairings created specifically for the event. There will also be food samples and dessert made by some of the city's best-known chefs and restaurants.
After taste testing the salsas and drinks in competition, a panel of local culinary experts will select winners from both amateur and professional categories. Attendees will also get the chance to vote for their favorite salsa and tequila pairings and honor one chef with a special People's Choice award.
Of course, what would a night of great food be without a little music and dancing on the side? Event attendees will enjoy live performances from flamenco dancers, the Ballet Folklorica La Paloma, mariachi bands and other local musicians. A dance floor will be set up in the shopping center's garden courtyard for anyone who wants to cut a rug.
Lending a festive atmosphere to the event will be more than 20 handmade piñatas made by local artists, which will be hung from the arches of the courtyard. Attendees will have the chance to buy raffle tickets and vote for their favorite piñata design. The raffle is part of a scholarship fundraiser sponsored by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Tickets to the event cost $55 per person on the day of the event but can be purchased in advance at a discounted rate. Admission includes up to 50 salsa tastings with chips, more than 25 tequila-based mixed drinks, fine tequila and food samples and dessert. To find out more about the Salsa and Tequila Challenge, visit the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance website or contact the organization at (520) 797-3959.