Foodies of Orange County, mark your calendars!  Saturday, November 19th from 9am – 2pm, the SoCo Farmers’ Market in Costa Mesa will host the second ‘Farm to Food Truck Challenge‘ – A creative cook-off event where gourmet food trucks go head-to-head using local SoCo Farmers’ Market ingredients to create culinary masterpieces that are judged by a panel of aficionados. It’s a fabulous, fun (and free!) day for food-lovers!

15 gourmet food trucks will be at the event, serving throughout the day. Of the 15 present, 6 gourmet food trucks will compete in the challenge & fight for the title of ‘Top Chop Truck’.  The 6 competition trucks are: Taco Maria, Home Skillet, Seabirds, SlapFish, The Flip Truck and Piaggio

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving you a sneak-peek here on the Anne Watson Photography blog with a behind-the-scenes look into the culinary specialties of each of the 6 competing trucks.  Complete with plenty of drool-instigating food photos, of course!

First-up is a new-kid-on-the-block that is quickly gaining notoriety with gastronomes across Orange County – the Taco Maria truck.  On the food truck scene for just 2 1/2 months now, Taco Maria is taking mobile Mexican cuisine to a new level, shattering any preconceived notions of what a ‘food truck taco’ is.  They serve mind-blowing creations at affordable prices.

Family-owned and operated, Taco Maria is under the management of a fantastic brother-sister team, Carlos and Silvia Salgado. The Salgados have been on the OC food scene for over 25 years already with their family restaurant, La Siesta Mexican Food, near Old Town Orange.  So, making a move into mobile gourmet cuisine was a natural next step for them.

And, with Carlos Salgado at the helm as Executive Chef of the Taco Maria kitchen, this truck is in excellent hands.  Carlos has a long history in the culinary world – most recently working for 6 years in San Francisco as a highly-skilled pastry chef in some of the city’s top restaurants.

Carlos’ training and exquisite standards for his kitchen are immediately apparent when you set foot into the truck. Everything is immaculate – you could eat off of the floors they are so clean – and the ambiance is one of calm, sophisticated organization, even during the heaviest part of the lunch rush. Patrons can view everything through the huge glass picture-windows that run the length of the front of the truck. Taco Maria clearly has nothing to hide – This is Michelin-star-quality stuff.

So, to whet your palate, below you can feast your eyes on a small taste of what Carlos and his team are creating in the Taco Maria kitchen at the moment. And then be sure to bring your appetite on Saturday, November 19th to SoCo Farmers’ Market as Taco Maria goes head-to-head with the other 5 trucks in the Farm to Food Truck Challenge II!

Stay tuned for more details on the competing trucks in the coming days – next up, Home Skillet!…
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Executive Chef of Taco Maria, Carlos Salgado, preparing one of their most popular dishes – the Quesadilla de Tuetano; crispy bone marrow quesadilla with queso oaxaca and herbs & garlic al molcajete
Perfectly-crisped, just-out-of-the-fryer bone marrow
A Concord Grape & Hibiscus Agua Fresca, made with locally-sourced grapes from the SoCo Farmers’ market
Taco Aracherra; grilled marinated hanger steak, charred shisito peppers, carmelized onion & applewood bacon
Taco Jardineros; roasted pumpkin, black beans, queso cotija & salsa de semillas
Taco Mole de Pollo; chicken thighs stewed with chcolate, chile, toasted almonds & figs
Chilequiles de la Casa; fresh tortilla chips sauteed in chile cascabel sauce with queso fresco & a fried farm egg