Tuesday, April 14, 2009



Chicagoans can get a jump on this year’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations and the city’s festival season at the first ever Mole de Mayo outdoor festival on Saturday, May 2.

The Mole de Mayo festival will take place from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m at El Zocalo Plaza on 18th Street and Paulina in Pilsen, the heart of Chicago’s Mexican community. The event is being organized by Eighteenth Street Development Corporation, a non-profit that has been serving the Pilsen neighborhood for over 30 years and supported by area foundation LISC/Chicago.

The highlight of the event is a mole cook-off. Mole (pronounced moe-lay) is a traditional Mexican sauce, typically made of chiles, nuts, spices, chocolate and seasonings. Served with chicken or on enchiladas, this dish is a staple in most Mexican households. Mole originates from the Puebla region of Mexico, where the Batalla de Puebla was won on May 5th, making Cinco de Mayo an important date in Mexican history.

“We wanted to create this event for Pilsen because it’s one of Chicago’s largest Mexican communities without an event to commemorate Cinco de Mayo,” said Hector Saldana, one of the event’s organizers. “We envision an event that has cultural significance, not just another Cinco de Mayo party.”

The Mole cook-off will include awards in three categories, including Best Mole award, the People’s Choice Award, and the Casero award, for the best local homemade mole.

The cook-off judges are an eclectic mix of Chicagoans, including the 312 Dining Diva, Audarshia Townsend; Alpana Singh, Host of Check Please!; Honorable Judge David Delgado of the Circuit Court of Cook County; Mel T, co-host of the DreX Morning Show on KISS-FM; and Javier Salas, new anchor for Univision.

A variety of restaurants from Pilsen and the Chicago region have signed up to compete including Fogata Village, Lalo’s on Halsted, Mundial Cocina Mestiza, Nuevo Leon, Riques, El Sol, May Street Café, Zocalo and Fig Catering.

In addition to sampling the mole, participants will have the opportunity to shop local at the Mercado market from businesses like Artesenias D’Mexico, Flor Del Monte, Don Churros, the Pilsen Community Market, Zapatillas, OMD and Pop This! Vendors will also be selling Sauza margaritas, micheladas (Mexican-style bloody marys) and Miller Lite beer.

Specifics of the event are as follows:

When: Saturday, May 2nd from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Where: EL Zocalo Plaza, 18th Street & Paulina (CTA Pink Line Stop, Paulina)
Cost: $1 suggested donation.
Judging by Celebrity Panel: 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Mole Trophy Casero Presentation: 2:00 p.m.
Mole Trophy Winner Presentation: 3:00 p.m.
Peoples Choice Award Trophy Presentation: 6:30 p.m.

Kristy Menas - kristym@eighteenthstreet.org

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