With months pf planning this wonderful what was to be an outdoor event on the beach, was not going to happen at least on the beach. The committee along with half the city had been watching both WINDYTY.COM and WEATHERUNDERGOUND.COM to keep up on the massive storm that was about to hit not only Southern California but the Baja of California as well as Puerto Peñasco. So on Friday afternoon February 17th the committee decided to move the event inside the Hotel Penasco del Sol Hotel. This was not an easy task, but when you live here you learn to adapt and go with the flow so to speak. There we found ourselves moving tables into place to make certain everyone had space and utilizing every salon along with foyer and hallway leading into the what quickly became a convention like setting. Tape measures in hand Jonni Francis, John Fowler, Cinthy Aguirado, Sarina Brown and Beverly Arrowood set out to mark the tables for both the regular competition as well as the tables for the salsa contest.
It could not have turned out better. Every RV park, Playa Bonita, The Reef and Playa del Oro, as well as the dry camping area near Playa Bonita was packed to capacity. The group became very nervous that if they got the rain, it said we were going to get, that no one would come out. WRONG! When you are in an RV and it is raining, you can’t go to the beach and sit in the sun.. so where did they go… you guessed it, The Taste of Penasco. The doors opened at noon and there was already a long line formed despite being sprinkled on.
Although not officially on the committee, my job was to gather volunteers for the event and because we have a need for a lot of volunteers for Bike Week registration, I already had a built in list for the team. Everyone was on board ( all 28 of them) and they were so excited to be a part of it. Many of them live in Las Conchas, so if you have ever been in Puerto Peñasco when it rains, you know those roads are almost impassable. These folks are troopers as the worried about getting home after the event.
Little did anyone know how large this event was going to be! As guests began filing in, it soon became apparent that we were breaking all records for the Taste of Penasco. The event drew a crowd of 1,400 and they came from all over. Those from Washington and Oregon felt right at home even though they had not counted on the rain. Everyone was prepared with umbrellas and in some cases had on rain jackets an boots.
The Chef’s are to be commended as they had to unload all of the food and equipment in the rain and then try to look nice as they greeted everyone. The setting was beautiful with the clouds, rain and the beach. No one complained about the weather or not having a lot of room to move and sit. If they had a table, they got to make new friends, after all that is what a festival is all about. The vendors from the Mermaid Market also had to contend with unloading in the rain, but they made the best of it and did a great job.
Tickets sales for food and drink were brisk and exceeded all expectations. The hotel even ran out of red wine for awhile. Raffle tickets were selling well as there were over 120 gift certificates and physical items to take home. The music was great and people were dancing where ever they could find space to dance. Joshua Ellis started the music off at noon and was followed by Heber and Vania (that lady can really sing). then came Los Hijos de Mauricio and lastly Los Ponchos who played a lot of oldies so many were doing the twist.
Certain the waiters had a hard time delivering the samples to be judged as they had to hoof it from the convention site around the pool and then into the restaurant, where the 5 judges had been waiting. It did start to sprinkle again as this process was going on.
Each and every chef really out did themselves both in taste and presentation but right down to decorating their booths. This was the 1st time for the Salsa Competition and there were 8 entries. Taking 1st Place was Sr. Amigo’s and 2nd Place went to El Tapeo (this was their first time entering The Taste of Penasco).
In the main judging, 1st Place went to Southside Jillz, 2n Place went to Mare Blu and 3rd Place went to another newcomer Empanadas La Argentina.
Thanks to the judges for their hard work and they were Max McBride, Chef at Sonoran Grill, Chef Julio, Personal Chef at Julio’s Healthy Meals, Chef Andrea Smith a Personal Chef, Jack Ava and Bill Bailey, Guest Judge.
This was a great way to show off what Puerto Peñasco has to offer. Think we may just pray for rain next year as well! Through so much effort on the behalf of the committee, the restaurants, the community, the tourists and winter visitors and the tireless work of the volunteers $6,000.00 was made and divided between the charities.
Well done Puerto Peñasco.. well done. Enjoy some of the pictures and the Taste of Penasco 2018 will be waiting for you.