Tag Archives: interview

An Interview With 60 Day Taco Challenge’s Jeff Old


Tacos can be challenging. There are tacos made with pork stomach lining. There tacos made with cow uterus. There’s the Michoacan dish, rellena, a loose blood pudding with pancita, tripe and heart that goes by the name moronga when encased in intestine. It’s amazing in a handmade tortilla and dressed with salsa chile de árbol.Then there are taco challenges such as the Austin vegan taco cleanse and, in Dallas, the 60 Day Taco Challenge undertaken by Jeff Old and documented on Facebook. He took some time out of his taco itinerary, which is nearing its end, to answer some questions for the Taco Trail.

Taco Trail: What sparked the taco challenge?

Jeff Old: It started from a conversation I had with my wife. I was bragging about how much I loved tacos and that I could eat them every day. From that conversation was the idea that I could eat tacos for 60 days in a row. She thought I was “all talk” and that I wouldn’t actually go through with it. After some thought, I came up with the idea of the 60 Day Taco Challenge. I realized how much fun I could have with this and I wanted to share my taco journey with others through social media.

TT: How do you select which establishments to patronize?

JO: I select the places I will eat at based on my previous experiences, online research and recommendations from friends and through others on social media. Continue reading

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Filed under Dallas, DFW, interviews, Lengua Sessions

Introducing Taco Trail’s Newest Contributor, Nick Zukin

Taco Trail contributor, Nick Zukin

When I received Nick Zukin’s email invitation to join him on a taco crawl along Maple Avenue in Dallas, I had no idea who he was. After reading the email, I knew I could learn some things about tacos and eat damn good tacos if I accepted the offer from the Portland, Oregon, resident. Since then, Nick has been a kindred spirit and my taco reference book mule. On his way back to Portland from Mexico, Nick has passed along essential reading material.

But Nick is more than a taco enthusiast and trafficker of the printed word. He’s also a food writer, restaurateur, cookbook author, tireless debater, tour guide, friend and, now, a Taco Trail contributor.

Let’s get to know him before moving on to his first post.

Taco Trail: You’re involved in myriad aspects of the food and restaurant world. How did you go from writer to owning and operating your own restaurants, a deli and Mi Mero Mole, a taqueria—even writing a cookbook, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home?

Nick Zukin: I get bored easy. That’s basically it.  I was a computer programmer who got tired of sitting behind a computer screen all day and decided to make my hobby my career instead.  I knew it’d mean a pay cut and longer hours, but for me it’s more about building something. Writing a cookbook, writing reviews, researching obscure Mexican antojitos—those are all things I’d do anyway just because.  There’s not much pay in food writing, as you know, but it’s nice to know that my reviews made a difference for the bottom line of restaurants where people care enough to put out a good product. And my mom gets to have a book on her shelf with my name on it.

TT: When and where does your passion for and knowledge of Mexican cuisine, specifically tacos, come from?

NZ: My mom is from Arizona and my dad from California. I grew up eating Mexican food several nights a week. When we went out to eat, it was either Mexican or pizza. My first cooking memory is my dad showing me how to fry tortillas for crispy taco shells. In college, Mexican was about the only food I could afford to go out and eat that didn’t come from a drive-thru, but even then I wanted to find the best. And then when I started traveling, Mexico being relatively cheap and close and having food that I loved was an obvious destination. It just snowballed from there, especially once I started food blogging, buying Spanish-language Mexican cookbooks, and chatting with people more knowledgeable than me on the internet. I still keep in touch with people I met online and shared a love of Mexican food with, like Steve Sando, Cristina Potters, Sharon Peters, Ruth Alegria, and Nick Gilman. All of us are professional Mexican food nerds of one kind or another now.

TT: How has it changed your view of Mexican food?

NZ: I guess my view has just broadened.  There’s just so much more to the landscape of Mexican food than I could have realized as a 5 year old learning to fry tortillas. I think it can be difficult for an American under the age of 40 to really understand the diversity and regionality of Mexican food because the regionality of American food has disappeared so much. Continue reading


Filed under interviews, Lengua Sessions, Mexico City, Portland

Alice Laussade, The Cheap Bastard & Meat Fight CEO

Alice Laussade laughs in the face of bar soap. The James Beard Award-nominated columnist for Dallas Observer’s food section likes to write using dirty words and doesn’t care about your delicate constitution. You either get the joke, or you don’t. That’s what she’s like on paper and on the Internet. But if you know Alice, you’ll see that, yes, she has that saucy quality, but she’s also a kind person, happy to help friend or stranger.

Case in point: Meat Fight, an annual barbecue competition benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This year, the smoked-meats soiree is going big, moving from Laussade’s backyard to Sons of Hermann Hall. The Deep Ellum venue will host some of Dallas’ top-dog chefs competing in teams for plaudits handed down by an intimidating panel of judges, including pit wizards Justin Fourton and Aaron Franklin as well as BBQ writer Daniel Vaughn.

If you haven’t already purchased your tickets to Meat Fight, you’re out of luck. The fundraiser is sold out. However, there is room at Cane Rosso, where Laussade will be making face with the oven on Monday, Oct. 29, as part of the pizzeria’s guest chef series. Her turn with the paddle will also benefit the National MS Society.

Did I just blow your cover, Alice? Whatever. You already answered the “Lengua Sessions” interview questions.  Speaking of which: Continue reading

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Filed under Dallas, interviews, Lengua Sessions