A new form of recognition for street chefs emerged in June of this year. The annual Top Street Chef title by Stitches ‘n Dishes, recognizing outstanding performance in creativity, innovation and quality was awarded to Joseph Looza, Chef/Owner of El Matador Mobile Mex, a Mexican/Asian fusion mobile food truck in Sacramento, CA. The coveted inaugural title was awarded based on a people’s choice vote on June 30, 2012 during the Foods4Thought.org annual fundraiser in Penn Valley, CA, where more than 3,500 attendees converged to nosh and nibble their way through 20 street food vendors over the course of six hours.
The contenders, driving as long as four-to-five hours to the venue, competed for a $1,000 cash prize, along with the coveted Top Street Chef plaque and commemorative chef’s apron. Throughout the six-hour voting period, attendees sampled dishes made by the chefs, and cast their votes. Chef Joe’s winning formula at El Matador Mobile Mex snagged him nearly 30% of all votes, leaving his competition in the dust.
“I’m humbled. It was our first big festival. I was confident in our product, but I was very humbled because the award was by the actual attendees at the event,” Joe said. El Matador serves tacos, quesadillas, tortas, tostadas, burritos, and nachos with beef, pork chicken or no meat, as well as a selection of Asian fusion tacos, burritos and bowls.
Second and Third Place winners, VolksWaffle and FuzionEatz each received $500 and $250 cash prizes, as well. But the real winners of the day were the 3,500 guests who were fortunate to basque in the sunshine and enjoy live entertainment during their feeding frenzy.
Not only does El Matador serve some of the most creative Mexican/Asian fusion dishes we’ve tasted, his “quasi secret menu” includes accommodations for a variety of dietary needs.
“We offer an amazing meatless fajita burrito with beans, rice, grilled peppers and onions, cheese, sour cream and salsa. We also have vegetarian nachos, tacos and such. The beauty of how we do things is that if a customer comes up to us with special needs; we can pretty much accommodate them as we control the ingredients being put into their meals. We do this right on the spot,” says Chef Joe.
Chef Joe makes his salsas and Asian slaw daily from scratch, and it shows. These are some very complex dishes – it’s not only about the meat. All too often do we encounter chefs who take their meat-based dishes to the highest level, but fail to deliver on the other ingredients. Chef Joe obviously makes a priority to focus on delivering the highest quality in every ingredient in his dishes.
Joe plans to keep making great food and to someday open a brick and mortar restaurant where “Taqueros” (master chefs) will prepare food table side for guests. In the meantime, you can find Chef Joe by visiting the FoodMob website.
Stitches ‘n Dishes is the creation of Christopher Ford and Andrew Nicora, and it’s inspired by Stitch, an American Staff. Terrier mix / Bichon Frise, born October 24, 2010.
We’re passionate about food, fun, photography and film. We also love the outdoors – hiking the city streets, the fairgrounds, or the beautiful trails all around California. Andrew literally grew up in the catering and concessions industries, doing everything from bussing tables, serving, cooking, back-stage hosting to you name it, and Chris has worked as an event promoter, organizer, photographer and marketing consultant.
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