Mercadito (108 W. Kinzie St.) kicks off 2014 with a lineup of world-class chefs who will showcase their ability to “think outside the tortilla” for its fourth annual Tacos for Strength campaign. From Top Chef and James Beard winners to several Food & Wine Best New Chefs, the highly regarded chefs join Mercadito’s Chef Patricio Sandoval in his initiative to support Share Our Strength and its mission of ending childhood hunger. Each month, Sandoval invites a different chef to create a taco inspired by their culinary or personal passions, which will be served in all Mercadito restaurants with a portion of proceeds going to Share Our Strength.
In 2013, Mercadito sold a grand total of 2,595 Tacos for Strength in its Chicago, New York, and Miami locations, raising nearly $2,000 to benefit Share Our Strength. In 2014, Mercadito has expanded its efforts to support Share Our Strength, engaging accomplished chefs outside of the restaurant's markets to create a signature taco.
“Over the past three years, I’ve had the honor of working with some of the best in the business, who created innovative tacos from drawing on personal memories and favorite cuisines,” Sandoval says. “This year has a lot to live up to, but I think that all of the chefs I’m collaborating with are up to the task.”
The 2014 Tacos for Strength program launches with Chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia and his Black Bean-Braised Oxtail Taco with bourbon jalapeños, chopped kim-chi, fish sauce mayo, and crunch ramen. Inspired by the classic pairing of oxtail and kim-chi in Korean cuisine, Chef Lee added bourbon-pickled jalapeños to give the combination a kick, reflecting his love of Southern cuisine. Lee uses ramen to give the taco a crunchy element and pay additional tribute to Asian influences.
The 2014 Tacos for Strength features taco creations from the following chefs:
· January: Edward Lee (610 Magnolia, Louisville, KY)
· February: Josh Adams (June, Peoria Heights, IL)
· March: Jamie Malone (Sea Change, Minneapolis, MN)
· April: Justin Cogley (Aubergine, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA)
· May: Carmen Gonzalez (Carmen the Restaurant, Miami, FL)
· June: Matthew Gaudet (West Bridge, Cambridge, MA)
· July: Gerard Craft (Niche, Clayton, MO)
· August: Sean Brock (Husk, Nashville, TN)
· September: Nicole Pederson (Found, Evanston, IL)
· October: Jason Vincent (Nightwood, Chicago, IL)
· November: Kevin Sbraga (Sbraga, Philadelphia, PA)
· December: Paul Virant (Perennial Virant, Chicago, IL; Vie, Western Springs, IL)
Tacos for Strength are available for dinner for (four per order) for $16.50 or for lunch (three per order) for $12.50. Reservations for Mercadito are recommended and can be made by calling 312.329.9555.