The Southern Arizona Salsa and Tequila Challenge has shaken up the summers in Tucson for three years, with 2013 mixing up to be more flavorful than ever at the La Encantada courtyards at Skyline and Campbell Ave.

Once a year, top chefs and restaurants compete in a signature Southern Arizona event which attracts over a thousand attendees serves the region's cultural garden to modern day taste buds.

On Saturday, Aug. 24 at 5:30 p.m., the culinary competition will once again support the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, two much-needed charitable causes raising money for hunger relief and the arts in our community.


The Salsa and Tequila Challenge brings up to 50 chefs and restaurants preparing unique salsa recipes and mixologists creating innovative tequila-based drinks along with sweet and savory menu pairings. A judging panel of culinary experts and enthusiasts select winners of the amateur and professional competitions, which are awarded at the main event, and attendees place their own votes for the People's Choice awards.


This year, the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation has added another ingredient to the charity mix. More than 20 piñatas will line the arches of La Encatada's courtyard, each sponsored by a business and created by a local artist. Attendees will buy raffle tickets to use as a vote for their personal favorite piñata design. Businesses interested in participating can call Cindy Ramirez at 240-6303.


Hispanic traditions will also be expressed live on stage through Ballet Folklorico La Paloma at 6 p.m., a colorful, energetic and captivating group of performers. Recently performing at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Ballet Folkorico La Paloma is a non-profit organization dedicated to perpetuating the native folk dances of Mexico.

Flamenco sensation Tesoro will take the stage at 7:15 p.m. The group has a unique sound that captivates even the most sophisticated flamenco purists and enthusiasts. Tesoro's sound is a mestizo of world genres layered on top of the aggressive yet sensual sounds of acoustic and electric guitar riffs rooted in flamenco.


Tickets to the event, $40 per person, include chips, salsa tastings, tequila cocktail sampling and shooters, menu pairings, silent auction browsing, live music and dance performances, cultural activities and more.

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