Houston Press
Tacolandia 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

The Water Works at Buffalo Bayou Park
105 Sabine St.
Houston, TX 77007

This year Houston Press's Tacolandia will crown eight taco purveyors among Houston's top taco vendors that will be at the event.

Categories will include Best Traditional Taco, Best New School Taco, Best Barbacoa Taco, Best Seafood Taco, Best Salsa, Best Fajita Taco, Most Interesting Taco and People's Choice.

Robb Walsh serves as the curator for Tacolandia and head judge over this year's judging panel.

When Robb Walsh launched the popular Taco Truck Gourmet blog for the Houston Press in 2006, it was the first regular coverage of taco trucks in the state. Walsh served as restaurant critic at the Houston Press from 2000 until 2010 and at Houstonia Magazine from 2012 to 2014. He has also served as the editor in chief of Chile Pepper Magazine, the food columnist for Natural History magazine and as a frequent contributor to Gourmet, Saveur and Fine Cooking.

His book Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections from the Pit Bosses (Chronicle, June 2002) was nominated for the James Beard Award in the Americana category. His book, The Tex-Mex Cookbook, A History in Recipes and Photos, (Broadway 2004), was nominated for the IACP Cookbook Award in the American Category. His book, Sex, Death & Oysters (Counterpoint Press 2009) was voted one of the best food books of 2009 by Amazon.com. He has also written The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook, Broadway Books, 2010 and Texas Eats, Ten Speed, 2012.

Walsh has devoted his career to exploring and interpreting folk foodways. He won his first James Beard Journalism Award for an article about Caribbean hot sauces in 1996. As a commentator on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition, Sunday, Walsh won the James Beard Broadcast award for an essay about Spam in Hawaii in 1999. His third James Beard Award in 2010 was for an article about oysters in Garden & Gun magazine.

Walsh's writings appear in several anthologies including: Best Food Writing 2001–2010 and Cornbread Nation, Best Southern Food Writing 2014 from the Southern Foodways Alliance. He is the founder and head judge of the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, now in its 25th year.

In July of 2010, along with other veterans of the Southern Foodways Alliance, Walsh founded a non-profit organization called Foodways Texas to preserve and promote Texas food culture. Foodways Texas is headquartered in Austin and affiliated with the University of Texas College of Liberal Arts.

Cuc Lam private chef, freelance food writer, home cook, foodie extraordinaire. Her specialties include Cajun, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and southern home cooking. She has been cooking in my own kitchen for over 20 years and have always enjoyed sharing meals with friends and family. In the past, I've been a bar owner and sushi restaurateur. Currently, Cuc host pop-up events and cooking classes in my home, in local restaurants and venues and freelance for the Houston Press.

While stationed in San Diego, Jay Rascoe lived in Tijuana for nine months, where he discovered his love for taco stands. In 2009, Jay launched the website "Guns and Tacos" in order to chronicle the taco trucks of Houston. Jay created a Google map to make it easier for people to find taco trucks and gun ranges. Jay has authored articles for Houston Chronicle, Free Press Houston, Sugar and Rice, My Table Magazine, Texas Monthly, and Playboy Magazine and is a proud member of the Texas Taco Council.

Mando Rayo is the co-author The Tacos of Texas and the Austin bestselling book, Austin Breakfast Tacos: The Story of the Most Important Taco of the Day. Mando is CEO and Engagement Strategist at Mando Rayo + Collective, LLC, a multicultural digital agency based in Austin, TX.

Marco Torres is an entertainment and editorial photographer based in Houston, Texas. He has documented his city's rich music, art, and taco scene since 2004. Torres grew up in Houston's North Side, and later attended Jones Senior High in Houston's South Park district at the height of the DJ Screw era, fueling his love for Houston Rap. He is currently the principal photographer for the Aces Of Taste dinner series as well as the Tacos Of Texas book, which will be published Fall 2016 through UT-Press.

"There's no such thing as a taco liker" says Michael Durbin, a self-described 'Tacoteur' and transplant from the Bay Area of California. "Either you LOVE tacos, or you're wrong!" He exclaims. And he's not just talking the talk! Where tacos are concerned, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone walking the walk with more passion and dedication. While introducing him to the spectators and competitors at this years World Taco Eating Contest in San Jose California, Major League Eating Executive Sam Barclay, described Michael as "A credit to the great State of Texas, and to the taco based lifestyle everywhere..."

He is currently over 200 days into his quest to set an official World Record for the most consecutive days eating tacos for every meal. What started as a yearlong commitment to what he considers the holy grail of gastronomy, has gained the attention of media outlets and documentary filmmakers alike. Not to mention the friendship and respect of some of the most celebrated names in the taco community.

When Michael isn't on the road searching for the perfect taco, making guest appearances, and judging tacos at the biggest and best taco festivals in America, he can be found riding his Harley on the back roads of East Texas, where he lives with his son Dalton and their tiny dog, Cricket. You can follow his journey via his website www.tacoteur.com.