Carlos Salgado had a hell of a year in 2014 for his Taco María. Best restaurant for both OC Weekly and the Orange County Register, and maker of one of Jonathan Gold's 10 best meals of the year. Glowing reviews in Los Angeles and other regional publications. A hell of an Indie Chefs Week. Partially catered my wedding with his amazing aguachile (yes: I paid. Oh, I paid…). Ever-increasing lines. And all throughout, Salgado never compromised in his vision of offering Mexican food the way he envisioned it, moronic one-star-Yelp-reviews-'cause-he-doesn't-offer-nachos-or-combo-plates be damned.
Welp, Salgado is ushering in spring in a huge way. This morning, Food and Wine named Salgado one of its Best New Chefs of 2015. Let that sink in: a Mexican kid from Orange, from Orange County, has been named one of the best new chefs in America by one of the few institutions that offer such a recognition that people take seriously.
Wow. Wow. Wow. WOW. Salgado is the third-ever OC chef to get the title (after Roy Choi of Kogi, a fellow Villa Park alumni–go Spartans!–and Tim Goodell's Aubergine–remember that place?). And is Salgado the first-ever Mexican-American to get the honor? Of the few Latinos I've seen win over the past 15 years, they're all Peruvians or Spaniards–ain't Mexican.
All I can say at this moment is an anecdote that I think I've shared before, but I'll share again: when Dave first let me know about some Taco María ready to take on OC, some luxe lonchera that claimed they were going to serve “Chicano cuisine,” I immediately hit them up on Twitter and called them out on their shit, openly wondering what the hell did that mean. “We have issues,” was Salgado's response–HAHAHAHAHA!
And from there, I knew Salgado was destined for great things. Congrats, cabrón, may a Beard follow soon, and may you never leave Orange County…in the meanwhile, everyone GO GO GO!