On the evening of this past Tuesday, November 14th, 2017, dozens of Philadelphia’s Latino business owners and professionals, colleagues from Impact Dimensions LLC, and Puerto Rican food aficionados, gathered together to watch Chef Luis Liceaga of Loco Lucho’s Latino Kitchen strut his stuff (and his sofrito!) at Independence Live.
The space, owned by Independence Blue Cross, reached well-over maximum capacity, with about seventy guests networking, drinking, chatting, and most importantly, eating Chef Liceaga’s delicious “tailgate tapas”.
Though the chef is used to feeding humongous hoards of Eagles fans, this crowd of attendees was particularly special, as it included a longtime friend of Liceaga’s who visited specifically for the demonstration. Liceaga pointed out this friend in the crowd, and teared up from being overwhelmed by the love and the gratitude palpable in the room.
While preparing the dishes along with his crew, Liceaga joked and told tales that encompass the “origin story” of Loco Lucho’s Latino Kitchen, set to become the first authentic Latino stand (defined as a stand owned by a Latino that serves Latino food), in Philadelphia’s historic Reading Terminal Market.
One in particular stood out: Chef Liceaga had been discussing with Chef Jose Garces, a prolific Ecuadorian-American restaurateur and Phoodie favorite, the possibility of opening a restaurant together in Puerto Rico. What ultimately determined the fate of this restaurant had nothing to do with a falling out (both chefs are good friends), but rather, Jose becoming the Iron Chef in 2008.
Though all of the food was outstanding, what really packed a memorable punch were the white and red sangrias, which tasted like adult "Juicy Juice" boxes. And trust me, that’s high praise.