At Taste for the Space, food trucks, local restaurateurs, and chefs will compete for a dining terrace space at Eastridge Center. The best competitors will be selected to show San Jose their signature dish and why their taste should win the space. During the event, Eastridge Center will invite the community to weigh their options. Attendees will enjoy a food festival, refreshments, and more as they taste their way through the competition.
Rodney Baca is the executive chef and owner of Baca Sauces. Native to Albuquerque, New Mexico, he brings experience from prestigious restaurants and has trained under some of the top chefs in the world. He was rated a top “up-and-coming” chef in the nation in 2004 while serving as executive chef of the Mountain Winery. He toured Europe consulting in 2005, and in 2006, opened MALIA Restaurant in Santa Monica. From 2010 to 2015, he delighted San Jose Sharks fans at the Grill Restaurant, then he created his boutique line of sauces and salsas: “Baca Sauces.” He currently is in partnership with House Family Vineyard in the Saratoga Hills.
Big E Café
Even though he has no formal training, Ernesto May’s passion for cooking has allowed him to reach his dream of having his own eatery. His love for cooking started at a very young age. During his teens and twenties, he learned from many chefs and acquired knowledge of the culinary arts. In 2005, he had the opportunity to purchase a small corner coffee house. With the help of his wife, his daughter, and lots of hard work, the small corner coffee house has become a destination for some of the best South American empanadas in the Bay Area, with patrons driving long distances to enjoy his creations, such as the chicken cilantro empanada or the popular traditional Peruvian beef empanada. With over sixteen different flavors of empanadas on the menu—ranging from breakfast to savory to sweet—Ernesto has something for everyone. When asked what his formula for success is, without hesitation he states, “Follow your passion. Whatever it is, follow your passion.”
Big Ed’s Buzzard BBQ
After many years of grilling for his church, family, and friends, Ed stepped out in faith to follow his dream and fulfill a passion in his life. He felt a strong prompting from the Lord to act on his love for BBQ and founded Big Ed’s Buzzard BBQ. His passion for grilling goes back over 25 years, and with many tested recipes, he decided to venture out into a family-owned and -operated BBQ business. He started out doing festivals and private events, and three-and-a-half years ago, he opened his first brick-and-mortar business in Santa Clara.
Randy Musterer, better known locally as “Sushi Randy,” is the owner and executive chef of Sushi Confidential, with two Bay Area locations. A native of San Diego, Randy grew up working on sport fishing boats where he gained an appreciation of excellent customer service, fresh fish, and sushi. Randy graduated Cal Poly SLO with a BS in biology and moved to the Bay Area to start his Cancer Research Career. Scientist by day, Randy dreamt of working with his favorite food, sushi, on a more ongoing basis. A couple days a week, Randy trained with master sushi chefs throughout the Bay Area and eventually began hosting secret (“confidential”) underground dinner parties for close friends, developing his personal brand of sushi making. He continued to build a cult-like following and opened his own restaurant in 2012. Sushi Confidential quickly became a local favorite, and in 2016, Randy opened a second location in downtown San Jose. Sushi Confidential was awarded Small Business of the Year 2017 by the Silicon Valley Organization for philanthropic efforts in the community. Crazy Poke is the newest concept Randy is undertaking. This is a quick service concept that allows people to have sashimi-quality fish mixed in an exciting poke bowl with a variety of flavors to tantalize the taste buds.
Organic, locally sourced, fusion tea drinks and waffles are what Candy and Caleb Bui, owners of Tea Lyfe, envisioned to offer their hometown. Located in the heart of East San Jose, Tea Lyfe takes pride in not only the ingredients that they use, but also being able to showcase their city’s rich culture through their hand-crafted drinks and waffles. The most popular items are the horchata series and waffle snacks that complement each other and make for great treats. Their wood-style interior design is also very eye-catching, giving a very rustic look, bringing together families, students, and professionals alike.
Three heads are better than one. Trifecta Cooks consists of three friends who met during their time at Morimoto Napa. Lai Chao, Ryan Gallego, and Jason Artajos have a shared passion for Japanese cuisine and look to perfect their craft. Currently, they are operating a private catering company based out of San Jose. They host pop-ups in San Francisco through Feastly and host private events throughout the whole Bay Area, from Napa to Santa Cruz. Trifecta Cooks focuses on using quality local ingredients with traditional techniques and modern flavors. From sushi to small plates, they do it all.
Fairycakes is a local food truck with a production kitchen. They cater to Silicon Valley businesses and public markets with 80 flavors of cupcakes. Owner Brian Vail’s mother didn’t make dessert, but by the age of 5, he could make box-cake—and it only got better from there. Throughout his life, cake was the solution to life’s many problems. At the age of 40, he left the corporate world and decided to do what he loved to do before he was too old to do anything else. One of his dearest friends suggested the name—cupcakes are called “fairycakes” in England—and the name made Brian laugh. Cupcakes are fun. They allow people to create many flavors, so no one has to choose just one, yet they’re small enough that people don’t have to share, if they don’t want to.
The Fish Taco Wabo
The Fish Taco Wabo is a local, family-owned food truck founded by Hector Garibay, Lulu Mena, and Erika Garibay. Three years into their opening, The Fish Taco Wabo has catered a wide variety of clients, including NASA, Levi’s Stadium, and Stanford University, just to name a few. They serve unique Mexican food dishes and are most popularly known for their award-winning seafood tacos.
Rita’s of San Jose
Annie Naqvi was born and raised in Los Angeles and studied sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). After realizing her calling in life was to help people, she went to Loyola Marymount University and got a master of arts degree in education with an emphasis in counseling. Humza Chowdhry is from Fresno and went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to obtain a degree in structural/civil engineering. After obtaining his master’s degree in engineering from SJSU, Humza decided to stay in the Bay Area, where he opened up his own practice called HC Structural Engineering ↦ Construction. Annie and Humza met in the summer of 2011 in Southern California. They both shared a passion for helping others, and they also shared a love of food. They got married in 2013 and were introduced to something that would change their lives forever: Rita’s Italian Ice. Both Annie and Humza fell in love with the product after having tried it in Southern California, and immediately thought this would do great in the Bay Area. Annie and Humza own Rita’s of San Jose and have exclusive rights to the San Jose territory. With a growing family and a growing business, they both come together for some “ice, custard, happiness.”
His creative techniques and his desire to be in the kitchen are what have driven Jimmy Morales to where he is today. He is a former student at The Art Institute of California (Sunnyvale) who had completed his time in the service with the United States Army from 2008 to 2011 as an infantryman. He comes from a long family history of culinary professionals, including his father Robert Guerrero who came into this country as an illegal immigrant and worked his way to the top. Jimmy Morales began to pick up ideas from his father and his mother by being schooled from home at a young age. His journey to a culinary career began when he was a freshman in high school working for his father at the Prolific Oven coffee house and bakery in Palo Alto. In 2016, he continued his culinary experience as a kitchen member (blue hat) at BJs restaurant and as a line lead, mastering all stations and eventually landing him the pasta station, which was his favorite. Today, he is motivated to bring the flavors of South America to the streets of San Jose. He hopes to open a restaurant for Bay Area residents and food fanatics from all over the U.S. the world to come and try the amazing Amazon flavors of Peru.
West Wing is a food truck based out of San Jose that specializes in gourmet chicken wings. West Wing is run by J.P. and his brother-in-law Ralph, who decided to take the leap of faith in 2015 and have not looked back since. In a short period of time, West Wing has earned multiple festival awards and most recently won Metro’s “Munch Madness” competition. Their truck can be spotted catering a lunch at a Fortune 500 company, and then hours later at Avaya Stadium feeding hungry Earthquakes fans. West Wing creates unique wing flavors that satisfy the cravings of everyone from picky eaters to adventurous foodies while providing an unforgettable customer experience.
Nate Ramos grew up right here in San Jose, but a 15-year career in the culinary industry has taken him to some of the country’s top dining and travel destinations, including San Francisco, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. With a background in fine dining, Nate’s cuisine is refined yet reflective of his bright and upbeat personality. Nate currently lives in San Jose with his wife Julie, their son Henry, and 3-year-old dachshund terrier Penny.
RSVP and experience all of the flavors at the Taste for the Space event on May 13, 2017 at Eastridge Center.