PILSEN — Mole de Mayo will once again bring together Pilsen's best chefs this weekend to find out whose version of the Mexican classic reigns supreme.
The eighth annual outdoor fest, featuring a mole cook off, lucha libre and live music, will be staged Friday, Saturday and Sunday on 18th Street at Ashland Avenue in Pilsen. The festival will be open from 5-10 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.
The centerpiece of the fest remains the mole competition, pitting the best of the neighborhood's chefs and restaurants against one another. Restaurants will compete for two awards: Mole de Mayo's Best Mole Award and the People's Choice Award, and festival attendees can sample a variety of regional and specialty mole dishes from Pilsen's popular eateries.
This year, celebrity chefs will be judging the mole competition, said Alex Esparza, executive director at Eighteenth Street Development Corporation. Chef Gabriela Ruiz, owner of Gourmet MX in Tabasco, Mexico; TV personality and Miami restaurateur Chef James Tahhan; and former Top Chef finalist Chef Carlos Gaytan of Mexique in West Town are slated to judge the mole competition.
A staple in most Mexican households, mole is a traditional sauce typically made of chili peppers, spices, nuts, chocolate and various seasonings. While the sauce comes in a variety of flavors and ingredients, the classic mole version is dark red or brown in color and served over enchiladas and meats.
Participating restaurants include: El Costeño; Frida Room; La Cebollita; La Cecina; La Esperanza; La Michoacana; Los Comales; Ram’s Restaurant; and Yvolina’s Tamales.
Individuals will be asked to give an optional $5 donation upon entering the fest. The suggested donation is $10 for families. The donation benefits the Eighteenth Street Development Corporation.
Cesar Santoy, principal at Studio ARQ and president of the Eighteenth Street Development Corporation, said the group is excited to host this family-friendly festival on a holiday weekend.
“As president of ESDC, we are excited to host this family-friendly festival and draw people from all across the city to enjoy the holiday weekend,”
“We pride ourselves on curating a cultural and gastronomic event, but also provides a range of economic and social benefits to the Pilsen community," Santoy said.
In addition to great eats, the fest will also feature high-flying lucha libre wrestling matches, live music from more than 25 international and local acts across two stages and an open-air market.
Friday performers include: Yanga; Mariachi Perla de México; Cedeño; Soulphonetics; Charlie Glitch
Saturday acts include: Son de Madera; Dos Santos; Chicago Mariachi Project; Quetzal; Fabi; ¡Aparato!; Beats y Batería; Pablo Serrano People’s Stage Karaoke; Communicator; The Ponderers; Sonido Viernes 13; Mosco Cruz
Sunday acts include: Money Chicha; Bocafloja; Ramiro Ramirez; Sones de México; Las Tequileras; Los Vicios de Papá; Leticia Servin; Rubén P. Alvarez y Raíces; Profundas, Baruch; Bumbac Joe; Sonorama
Salsa dancers, authentic Aztec dancers, fire dancers and Chinelos, traditional costumed dancers from Morelos, Mexico, are also slated to perform.
Last year’s winner for Best Mole was La Esperanza Restaurant, while the People’s Choice award went to La Catrina Cafe.