Indie Chefs Week is heading to Orange County. Destination: Carlos Salgado’s Taco Maria. For a weekend, Salgado’s Costa Mesa kitchen will host more than 20 chefs—some from Orange County, others from further afield—for three special dinners. Thursday and Friday Oct. 16 and 17, a dozen chefs will cook a dozen-plus courses, and Saturday the 18th, all 20 will be on the job, presenting more than 20 courses. Tickets start at $175 for the Thursday and Friday dinners, and at $250 for Saturday’s sure-to-be-a-blowout. (Ticket info here.)
Austin chef Ned Elliott founded Indie Chefs Week to foster communication and collaboration between independent working chefs, hosting the first at his own restaurant, Foreign & Domestic. Friendship led to the second event here in Orange County. “I was honored to get an invitation from Ned,” Salgado says. “I found him and a lot of the other chefs to be like-minded, creative, and collaborative. When Ned decided to take Indie Chefs Week on the road, I asked him to consider doing an Orange County rather than an L.A. event. He asked us to host, and we enthusiastically accepted.”
The indie part is important, Salgado says—the goal is “highlighting up-and-coming chefs, most of whom have recently come into their own businesses or leadership roles. These are chefs making their own way, doing challenging work without a lot of financial backing. They’re fearless innovators in their respective restaurant towns.” O.C. chefs making the scene along with Salgado include Aron Habiger of The North Left, Nate Overstreet and Ashly Amador of Wheat & Sons Butcher, Jason Quinn and Zach Scherer of Playground, and Eric Samaniego of Little Sparrow. “Ned and I threw around names we’ve worked alongside in the past, or chefs we have found a respect for online or through their accomplishments,” Salgado says. High-quality drinks are assured: Craft cocktails will be provided by O.C.’s cocktail czarina Gabrielle Dion of The Mixing Glass.
“We’re really proud to bring national attention to Orange County,” he says, “and we’re excited to introduce chefs from different regions to the restaurant and to my hometown. There’s so much great talent here, and a lot of young chefs taking risks. We’re pleased to be able to share the limelight with them.”
All of which bodes well for the exchange of ideas among chefs, and the menus to be served during the landmark event. And for Salgado, there’s also a longer view—he plans other guest-chef dinners at Taco Maria in the future.