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January 10, 2019

South Philly Barbacoa's Cristina Martinez and other chefs cooking to benefit undocumented immigrants

Tickets to the Tacos & Tequila dinner are $10 and food is pay-what-you-wish to benefit PAUWR

Food & Drink Fundraisers
south philly barbacoa martinez South Philly Barbacoa/Facebook

Chef Cristina Martinez stands outside her restaurant, South Philly Barbacoa. Martinez is a finalist for a 2019 James Beard Award for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic along with Rich Landau of Vedge.

Want to snag some of those famous South Philly Barbacoa tacos without standing in that equally famous long line? An upcoming fundraiser offers the chance to do just that, while also supporting a worthy cause.

Barbacoa owners Cristina Martinez and Ben Miller are teaming up with Chris' Jazz Café later this month for a pay-what-you-wish dinner to benefit undocumented immigrants. Martinez has become more recognizable outside of Philadelphia since being featured on Netflix's Chef's Table and for her discussion of immigration and worker's rights while interviewed by Samantha Bee on "Full Frontal" last year.

The Tacos & Tequila fundraising dinner will feature live Latin jazz music and more than a half dozen local chefs collaborating for the night. Martinez and Miller will make Tacos Dorados for the evening (crispy fried lamb), while Chris' Jazz Café's Mark DeNinno will serve Garnacha Oaxaqueña with beef picada, crema, chapulines (grasshoppers) salsa and queso fresco.

Though other specific items haven't yet been revealed, SOUTH's Sous Chef Kurt Evans, Eclectik Domestic's Katie Briggs, Han Dynasty's Han Chiang, Musi BYOB's Chef Ari Miller, Laos in the House's Catzie Vilayphonh, and 1149 Cooperative's Jena Harris also are participating in the event. Vegetarian and vegan options will be available.

In addition to these specially prepared dishes, diners also can try one of five specialty tequila cocktails for $12 each. Here's a peek at the drink menu:

Kernel of Truth – Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, elote shrub, lime
Captain’s Margarita- Patron Silver, Ancho Reyes Verde Poblano Liqueur, pineapple juice, lime
Chapulines - Patron Reposado, roasted cricket bitters, avocado oil, bianco vermouth
Last of the Oaxacans- Patron Anejo, pioncillo syrup, mole bitters
I Left My Heart in Mexico- Patron XO, Ancho Reyes Ancho Chile Liqueur, hot chocolate, cinnamon

“We are thankful for the collaboration with the team at Chris' to raise money to advocate for the rights of the working undocumented immigrants in this city's professional kitchens,” said Martinez and Miller in a joint statement.

“We hope to use the platform of food in our social culture to bring awareness and ultimately policy change for the millions of hardworking undocumented immigrants who have helped build our country's food system and great restaurants," Miller added.

"We cannot continue to stay silent about the reality we see in our kitchens every day, and we are grateful for chefs who are willing to step up to the challenge of working towards a better more sustainable restaurant industry."

Donations for the food will go to the Popular Alliance for Undocumented Workers' Rights – PAUWR – which gives assistance to the undocumented community, recognizing their contributions to the dining scene locally and nationally.

Tickets for the event are $10 and can be purchased at the door or online. The event runs from 6 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17 at Chris' Jazz Café.


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