Chef Steve Santana of Taquiza : #TNTShowdown Chef Profile

The Taco & Tequila Showdown #TNTShowdown presented by MIAbites and The Liquid Projects is locked in for Sunday November 8th 6-9 pm at the Vagabond Restaurant and Bar.  

12 chefs and bartenders will battle it out to be selected for best taco and tequila drink, and to further whet your appetite and give you a little back story, MIAbites will be profiling each of the chefs leading up to the event. Tickets to #TNTShowdown are $65 in advance and available on Eventbrite link here.

Chef/Owner Steve Santana: Taquiza 

It was close to a year ago that I made my way over to the string-lit bunker-like space west of Ocean Drive, on 15th and Collins. The taqueria was the brainchild of the relatively unknown talent that was Steve Santana at the time; a web-developing dropout turned chef. But it was the impressive resume he had accumulated in his short, but burgeoning career as a chef that had everyone’s attention.

Fast forward to its one-year anniversary, and The Man of La Masa (as I like to call him) has turned into one of the most respected taco authorities in town. It’s still relentless brainy dedication that has gotten his signature tacos-- in particular his in-house made tortillas that have the signature hue of the blue bolita maíz corn kernels he imports from Uruapan, Michoacan--in every top-ten list written about the street-food favorite.

I’m not joking when I tell you that I’ve witnessed the man spent hours locked away in a windowless janitor's-closet size room grinding masa not just for the restaurant, but for the many orders that come in daily requesting his staple blue-hued creation and artisanal local product of choice.

When he isn’t grinding his life away, one of the best things about Steve is that regardless of his success, he is the type of guy you’ll very likely find sitting in a stool at Boxelder Craft Beer Market, chatting up the regulars that come by and tending to his other hobby, craft beer. And if you’re lucky and ask nicely, he might save your life and help you fix your computer (cause old talents die hard).

Don’t believe me? Then read it with his own words:

How has being a chef/owner in Miami changed over the last few years?

- My entire career as a "Chef" has been quite a short relatively speaking but from where I stand I see a lot of positive collaboration amongst the Chef community right now helping to push the city forward as a whole.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?

- I would still be a developer!

Which are you in the kitchen?  Angel or Demon?

- Angel :)

What ingredient could you not live without?  Your least favorite ingredient?

- Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt / White Pepper

What is the last dish you cooked for yourself?

- OldBay Arepa + Egg

Your favorite restaurant other than your own (naturally)?

- (The Former) Cypress Room, Alter, Izzy's, Macchialina, Ms. Cheezious

If you cook alongside any chef...alive or dead, who would it be and why?

- I would love to nerd out with Dave Arnold & Alex Talbot

Let’s talk tacos:  Corn or Flour?  Hard or Soft?  What is the craziest taco combo you have ever had? And where?  Can you give us a hint as to what you plan on submitting as your “Signature Taco” at TNTShowdown?  

- Blue Bolita Corn from Michoacán, Soft

- Last SBFW I got to host & try 9 amazingly creative tacos at Taquiza by guests Chefs such as Nina Compton (Curried Goat), Mole Duck (Brad Kilgore) & Smoked Lamb Neck (Jeremiah Bullfrog)

- It will be non-traditional...I'm doing a chicken liver and hisbiscus/cherry-pickled rhubarb this Sunday for Proof Pizza's 1st Year Anniversary

Why do you think YOU will win?

- I know a guy with good tortillas

Taco & Tequila Showdown #TNTShowdown is presented by MIAbites and The Liquid Projects and will be held Sunday November 8th 6-9 pm at the Vagabond Restaurant and Bar. Join us! Tickets available for $65 advance sale on Eventbrite