What happens when you get two of Orange County’s cutting-edge chefs together under the same roof and put them to work in the same kitchen? It could be an absolute recipe for disaster (“Too many cooks in the kitchen?”), but a few weeks ago Chef Carlos Salgado staged his first ‘Guest Chef Dinner’ at Taco Maria and the result was nothing short of sublime. Teamwork at its finest. Two chefs collaborating, highlighting each others’ talents, and creating a single menu together that was mind-blowing.

To kick off this exciting new series of dinners, Salgado invited his good friend and fellow Chef Eric Samaniego to join him for the evening and together they created something truly extraordinary. Their unique six-course menu was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. At one point, I was actually moved to tears as I tasted flavors that I never knew existed. There are, of course, other things that can make me cry, but food has never made me feel this way before. It was that unique, mind-opening, and delicious.


The ‘Guest Chef Dinner’ collaboration is a series of prix-fixe, multi-course format dinners that will be held over the coming months at Taco Maria, in Costa Mesa’s SoCo Collection. Each one will be very special as Chef Carlos will invite another critically-acclaimed chef to be his guest for the evening to join him in the kitchen.

A pair of additional dates have just been announced for October and November: On Tuesday 20th October, Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles will be in the Taco Maria kitchen, and on Tuesday 17th November, Richie Nakano, most recently of Hapa Ramen in San Francisco, will be Chef Salgado’s special guest.

To give you a small taste of the type of remarkable, one-night-only dinner you could be attending, below is a recap-through photos of August 25th’s event with Chef Samaniego.  If you missed this first one, you won’t want to miss another. Reservations are required, so be sure to check the Taco Maria website for ticket information.

{Follow Anne Watson Photography on Facebook and on Twitter/Instagram @annewatsonphoto. Taco Maria @tacomaria. Chef Carlos Salgado @csalgado. Chef Eric Samaniego @chefsamnegs}

TacoMaria_BLOG_002 TacoMaria_BLOG_003 TacoMaria_BLOG_005 TacoMaria_BLOG_006 TacoMaria_BLOG_007 TacoMaria_BLOG_008 TacoMaria_BLOG_009 TacoMaria_BLOG_010 TacoMaria_BLOG_011 TacoMaria_BLOG_012 TacoMaria_BLOG_013 TacoMaria_BLOG_014 TacoMaria_BLOG_015 TacoMaria_BLOG_016 TacoMaria_BLOG_017 TacoMaria_BLOG_018 TacoMaria_BLOG_019 TacoMaria_BLOG_020 TacoMaria_BLOG_021 TacoMaria_BLOG_022 TacoMaria_BLOG_023 TacoMaria_BLOG_024 TacoMaria_BLOG_025 TacoMaria_BLOG_026 TacoMaria_BLOG_027 TacoMaria_BLOG_028 TacoMaria_BLOG_029 TacoMaria_BLOG_030 TacoMaria_BLOG_031 TacoMaria_BLOG_032 TacoMaria_BLOG_033 TacoMaria_BLOG_034 TacoMaria_BLOG_035 TacoMaria_BLOG_036 TacoMaria_BLOG_037 TacoMaria_BLOG_038 TacoMaria_BLOG_039


Amuse: Melon, Uni, Lime

1st: Hamachi, Fig, Fennel, Pollen

2nd: Tortellini, Tomato, Caviar

3rd: Squid, Potato, Recado Negro

4th: Dungeness Crab, Corn, Old Bay

5th: Pork, Watermelon, Black-Eyed Peas

6th: Coconut, Brioche, Papaya