Thursday, July 18, 2024

This six-chef, eight-cocktail dinner in Long Beach will explore dishes from all 32 Mexican states—yes, 32

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In a perfect world, a place as rich in Mexican and Mexican-American culture such as Los Angeles, would know that in 2023, Mexican food is much, much more than a taco truck or a rice-and-beans combo. And surely, those who appreciate Mexican cuisine know of the vastness, complexity, and richness of that cuisine—but it is still something many Californians have not fully explored.

Enter “Disciples of the Corn,” a six-chef, six-sous chef dinner that will explore the entirety of the Mexican union through bite-sized tastes: Headed by Chef Ulises Pineda-Alfaro of El Barrio Cantina and the pastor pirates that are husband-and-wife team Elvia Huerta and Alex Garcia of Evil Cooks, all 32 states—from Querétaro and Quintana Roo to Chiapas and Colima—will have a regional dish represented across a dinner that will be paired with eight cocktails and plenty of deliciousness to spread around.

From left to right, top to bottom: Chef Elvia Huerta of Evil Cooks in Los Angeles; Chef Ulises Pineda-Alfaro of El Barrio Cantina in Long Beach; Chef Manuel Bañuelos of Fonda Tobalá in Long Beach; Chef Crystal Espinoza of Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles; Chef Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman of José in Dallas; and Chef Jonathan Perez of Macheen.

“Elvia and I have talked about this for a long time—ten years in all honesty,” Garcia said. “My mother once asked why we don’t do a dish here and there from every state in Mexico and then it hit me: ‘Oh shit, why not do all the states in one dinner?’ And probably most importantly, we want to show that we have more to offer than just birria and pozole and menudo. Mexican food is much bigger than that.”

This doesn’t mark the first partnership between Barrio and Evil Cooks: The pair got together for a Cinco de Mayo celebration last year that brought what could have been called the best tlyudas to be served in the city. So with this dinner, one can expect nothing less.

The ambitious undertaking has both a beautiful breadth—dishes will use everything from rabbit to quail, huitlacoche to chile chilaca, two different machacas…—and distinctly who’s-who of Mexican food not just in the region but a highlight from the bigger-than-all-y’all region of Dallas.

“It was over six months ago that we started planning this,” ineda-Alfaro said. “Just to make it work, we had to brainstorming then and we wanted to include something where people could experience the food of other great chefs while doing something likely few will do: Visit all 32 states.”

Anastacia Quiñones of José Dallas—whom you might know from the latest season of on Taco Chronicles on Netflix—will be joining Chef Huerta of Evil Cooks in Los Angeles; Chef Pineda-Alfaro of El Barrio Cantina in Long Beach; Chef Manuel Bañuelos of Fonda Tobalá in Long Beach; Chef Crystal Espinoza of Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles; Chef Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman of José in Dallas; and Chef Jonathan Perez of Macheen.

What will part of the menu look like? Three chefs have unveiled their menu so far.

Quiñones will be taking on the nation’s capital with a taco al pastor; Durango with alacran en tempura; Nuevo Le n with machaca con huevo; Sinaloa with aguachile de cameron; and Oaxaca with tetela de mole con quesillo.

Elvia Huerta of Evil Cooks will be taking on Baja California Sur with machaca de mantarraya; Michoacán with morisqueta; Yucatán with papadzul de codorniz; Hidalgo with mixiote de conejo; and Nayarit with tlaxihuille. 

Long Beach’s own and much-loved Chef Manuel Bañuelos will be taking on the great states of Quintana Roo with tikin-xicde caracol; Tlaxaca with cmstillaen mole de huitlacoche; Aguascaliente with ancho relleno de puerco y salsa de guayaba; Veracruz with chilpachole de cangrejo y chochoyotes; Puebla with pancita en mole blanco; and Chihuahua with a burrita de chile pasado.

“Disciples of the Corn” will take place on May 19 at El Barrio Cantina, located at 4th St. There will be two dinner services that day. For tickets and more information, click here.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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