Pasadena-Based Gourmet Taco Catering Company, Rasta Taco, Shares the Love at Orange County Fundraiser

Rasta Taco, the original taco catering company based out of Pasadena, CA, handed out hundreds of free tacos at Orange County-based Share Our Selves’s 20th Annual Wild & Crazy Taco Night in in Costa Mesa. All proceeds from the event benefitted low-income Orange County residents.

Pasadena, CA April 20, 2014 – Costa Mesa, CA was the scene of Share Our Selves’ 20th Annual Wild & Crazy Taco Night on April 11th, 2014 where Rasta Taco Executive Chef Lou Tista and his team handed out free gourmet tacos to benefit low-income residents of Orange County. Pasadena-based Rasta Taco is the original on-site taco cart catering company providing gourmet fare for weddings, corporate events and private parties.

Aside from industry leaders Rasta Taco, 22 area chefs took part in the event, which raised $70,600 from 675 guests to support SOS’s Orange Aid Project, which aims to help feed struggling Orange County residents.  VIPs paid $170 per ticket for early admission into the event.

According to Justin Prietto, Operations Manger of the reggae-inspired catering company, 2014 marks the third year that Rasta Taco has participated in the popular event.  “Chef Tista is always developing new culinary concoctions. An event like this allows us to try new taco combinations and recipes and to get feedback from hundreds of serious taco aficionados while supporting a great cause.”

Chef Tista developed two gourmet tacos specifically for this event: A Braised Korean Short Rib taco with mango pineapple slaw, Sambal aioli and toasted sesame seeds. The other taco was a Barbecue Pork Belly taco with honey horseradish slaw and crushed peanuts.

“The feedback was so positive that both of these tacos may find their way onto our regular wedding catering menu,” said Prietto, who also oversees Rasta Taco’s wedding taco catering operation. “More than most, our wedding clients want to wow their guests with extraordinary, fancy tacos.  Chef Tista outdid himself.”

Rasta Taco serves Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Diego and Santa Barbara counties, as well as the Inland Empire.  Their regular fresh, made-to-order menu includes tacos crafted from Caribbean carne asada, Jamaican chicken and carnitas.  Vegetarian and vegan options include grilled mixed veggies, seasoned tofu, grilled potato and faux chicken and beef. Sides include beans, rice, tortillas, gourmet salsas and other vital sides.

“We were pleased to feed so many generous donors at this fundraiser,” stated Prietto. “People snatched up all our business cards, t-shirts and tacos. We’ve been doing this since 2006 and people know what experience and credibility tastes like. There are a lot of copycats trying to do what we do. But there’s only one Rasta Taco.”

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How Technology and Tacos Transformed Business Events

The tech revolution has brought more than computing power to the workplace. Some of the other things that Silicon Valley taught the corporate world are: casual dress beats the heck out of suits and pantyhose, interactive communications are at the heart of productivity, and fun makes the business world go ‘round.

Also, taco catering is perhaps the best thing that ever happened to business meetings.

Yes, on-site gourmet taco carts are a manifestation of the digital revolution. How so? It’s more than just the fact that gourmet tacos are hand-held devices. In a broader sense, it’s about how people interact and what leads to a productive business event. The traditional keynote lunch event – where the 250-pound former linebacker and the 110-pound former dancer, today now coworkers, are served the same-size chicken dinner – does not work for every occasion. Quite the contrary, the sit-down meal limits meeting participants to spending 75 minutes with just eight or ten people at a single table.

The more casual food station approach to corporate meetings and events is a wholly different approach. Most companies want to foster interaction between people. The meal isn’t time off from the meeting, rather it’s an extension of it. With a food-cart catered event, the meeting planners effectively help the event hosts to accomplish the following:

  • Allow attendees to be creative – The old way of doing business involved the tried-and-true. A top-down approach to business meals therefore meant one dish was all that was offered (perhaps with a vegetarian plate that sometimes meant a sad plate of mixed vegetables). The information age approach to creative lunches allows the individual to choose their ingredients, the number of portions and the sauces or salsas on top.
  • Enable the mix and mingle – Instead of marooning event attendees on a single table of people, encourage a freer flow of people and their ideas. One party planner clustered cocktail tables near posters that asked bold questions (“Why might your product be extinct in five years?” and “What does your customer dislike about you?”). As attendees brought their taco-cart plate to one area, they engaged with others there for five or ten minutes, then moved on to the next poster and the next taco cart to have a different discussion with different people.
  • Adapt to last-minute attendance surges – The taco-cart approach has a very practical side. If suddenly 50 or 100 new people are added to a meeting (late RSVPs?), adding another cart or two is relatively simple.

In other words, it helps for a business event meal to be as adaptable as workplace technology is today. It’s more fun, more productive – and given the “open source” nature of you-build-it gourmet tacos, it’s a lot tastier too.

How Gourmet Taco Carts are On-Trend with Modern Creative Weddings

Quick question: What was on the menu at the last formal wedding you attended?

Next question: How many people do you remember talking to at your last sit-down formal dinner? Was it the people at your table?  How many others?

These are some of the reasons why weddings are trending in a more creative and decidedly more relaxed direction. According to a top wedding planning website TheKnot.com a survey of 13,000 of brides and grooms identified certain major trends in weddings in 2014 that illustrate how weddings are evolving today.

First, note that wedding traditions change all the time (“traditional” American brides wore black gowns until the late 19th century). The choice of venue, the degree to which religion is involved, the vows and the whole experience of weddings today are easily altered with nary a raised eyebrow. The couple that chooses a destination-beach wedding is no more obscure than couples who marry on boats, in baseball stadiums, on rooftop gardens, in museums or in a country chapel.

Still there are some directions that modern couples choose, as the survey identified:

Focus on the guests – The old school wedding had the marital couple on a dais, with everyone else looking at them. Today, the couple really wants guests to have a truly good time. That might be at the main reception, or a rehearsal dinner or post-wedding breakfast.

Almost one-in-five weddings are “casual” – This is an upward trend. Think gourmet taco food carts, which mean more guests get to mix and mingle (and the bride’s college friends aren’t stuck with the wrong guys at the wrong table for the whole reception).

Personalize the experience – Forget the banquet hall “package.” This means that the couple sets a theme and runs with it. For example, if the gourmet taco food carts are selected, the music, drinks and décor can be on related themes.

Food expenditures about $65/person (national average) – While these numbers average out costs between New York and Omaha, Los Angeles and Milwaukee, it’s a ballpark to start in.

n fact, wedding taco catering is one trend that is strongest on the West Coast but making its way into the hinterlands. The popularity of choosing the ingredients to suit the palate of the diner – as well as the quantity one chooses to eat, which can vary significantly from one guest to another – fits the theme of a guest-focused wedding. It promotes interaction between guests that rarely happens in more formal sit-down receptions.

Whether planning is done by the couple, the mother of the bride or a wedding professional, the key is to make it a happy day for all involved. All of which suggests the trending to more informal events – including with gourmet taco carts – is likely to continue upward.

Gourmet Taco Carts are Catering Southern California’s Biggest Events

Gourmet tacos are apparently the newest wave of pedestrian products – think little burgers and specialty pizzas – to go high style. Evidence of that are dozens of recognized restaurants featuring new interpretations of the taco in New York, Chicago, Louisville, Miami (of course), Denver and San Francisco. Their offerings include gluten-free and vegetarian tacos, plus grass-fed beef, pork, chicken, duck, and seafood fillings.

From the world of food trucks, where many get their first taste of this most traditional of Mexican dishes, tacos have come a long way, baby. Ingredients borrowed from the Caribbean (e.g., island-style whole black beans), and fold in seasoned tofu, mixed vegetables and sustainable fish stocks (e.g., tilapia). Chopped limes, onions, cilantro and salsa all keep many menu items tongue tantalizing and heart healthy.

But in Southern California, this infinitely adaptable and universally loved food isn’t restricted to one location. Mobile taco cart catering companies bring gourmet tacos to the venue – self-contained food carts can access just about any party location. With a traveling party set up (mobile margarita bars and entertainers are optional additions), the pan-cultural appeal of quality tacos fit a wide swath of occasions:

  • Entertainment industry productions and premiers
  • Sports pre-game parties
  • Retail openings
  • Fundraising events
  • Corporate launches
  • Museum parties
  • Auto dealership promotions
  • Private club occasions
  • Schools and universities
  • Real estate open houses (commercial and large-scale residential)
  • Weddings, anniversaries, bar mitzvahs and birthdays

But tacos aren’t the only thing to go high-end.  Mobile taco catering teams are expected to deliver friendly, competent service, and able to relate to broad spectrum of clients, from reserved CEOs to celebrities, boisterous sports fans or a must-be-perfect wedding party.  The theme is an interpretation of the traditional fiesta – it’s food with a side of fun.

Why are better-quality tacos so popular now? Perhaps because tacos have gone fully international: some taco catering companies feature ingredients found in the Middle East, Australia and Africa. But even within the Latin American realm of ingredients, there is tremendous variety to what a taco can hold. For health- and weight-conscious diners, it’s possible to pack in healthier ingredients (vegetables, beans, fish, chicken and lean beef) that don’t pack on the pounds.

Some might liken a taco to a type of sandwich, but that comparison dies quickly: sandwiches are for school lunches and a workaday lunch break. An on-site taco cart is an occasion!

That lime wedge squeezed over a slowly-simmered carnitas taco might have a sibling in the neck of a cerveza bottle or a sangria recipe. And the hand-held nature of eating a taco, absent the inconvenience of forks and knives, allow a hearty meal without a complicated dining room setup. The party host with a mobile taco cart caterer can keep guests focused on each other, on a presentation, on products, on an honoree or a speaker – all while they enjoy fine food prepared fresh in their presence.

The taco needs to please, but just as important it supports the event. In stylish Southern California, it’s the accessory that pulls everything else together.

A Taco Cart Caterer Makes the Fun Start Weeks in Advance of the Party

Sometimes you want a taco. And sometimes you want the whole fiesta.

Gourmet taco cart catering is becoming more popular at a variety of events because interesting tacos have near-universal appeal. The events where they are served include corporate occasions, weddings, store openings, family parties and even pricey-ticket fundraisers.

This is because the appeal of tacos in the gourmet version is largely about taste, convenience and what this style of dining lends to an event. Attendees can choose the ingredients and salsas they want – with or without chicken or beef or fish, with lots of healthy vegetables in every one – and eat in a manner of dining that is flexible, friendly and fluid. Taco-style meals evoke Latin American themes, but that ranges from the foods of Mexico to Jamaica, Argentina, Brazil and Spain.

In Southern California, where taco cart catering first was transformed from worksites to black tie events, the interpretation on what a taco is moved up as well. On today’s taco catering menu, it’s just as possible to get a grilled tilapia filling as grilled tofu, Jamaican chicken and Caribbean carne asada, as well as the traditional 4-inch corn tortilla, with refried beans, chopped cilantro and tomatillo salsa.

For a corporate lunch event, that may be exactly all that’s required. But for evening soirees or anything where guests have time to have fun, gourmet taco carts can be a launching pad to music, entertainment, a bar set up and theme décor. Why not create an island-themed party? Why wouldn’t you bring in music that evokes a Mexican hacienda celebration? Who doesn’t enjoy a Latin American cerveza or rum mojito?

Event planners find the catered-taco carts fit a few rules of successful events. This includes:

  • Make your event memorable – Everyone has had chicken dinners, hamburgers (including the sliders) and wrap sandwiches. But offer taquitos, quesadillas or ceviche stacks and your guests get a rare treat. Add a sangria bar and event attendees will note the fun was well planned.
  • Make your event exclusive – There should always be an entertainer, a band or a gift-giveaway that establishes the experience as a one-of-a-kind party. This is the touch that keeps people talking about the event weeks, months and years later.
  • Carry the theme through from start to finish – Maybe the event invitation has a piñata toy enclosed, which attendees redeem at the party for their first beverage (anticipation is half the fun, after all). Or maybe you send everyone home with a real piñata. In every event, the continuity of the theme – from food to drinks to music to entertainment to décor – helps immerse guests in an environment.

There is no reason the event planners themselves can’t have fun while doing the work. Insist on a tasting meeting with your gourmet taco cart vendor, who might be a good source of ideas and vendors.

6 Simple Steps How Rasta Taco Works

6 Simple Steps – How Rasta Taco Works

We take pride in how easy it is to book an event with Rasta Taco. We’re all about quality & simplicity. If you’re reading this blog, you probably know a little about us! Just in case you didn’t know, we figured we’d share our 6 Simple Steps to booking a Rasta Taco event.
  1. Fill out our Catering Request Form or give us a call at (866)967-2782
  2. We’ll send you a customized quote for your event.
  3. Book the event by filling out this form.
  4. We’ll confirm all event details with you a few days prior.
  5. We show up with the original, made to order, taco cart!
  6. You enjoy your event! We’ll clean up.
Go ahead, call us today for a FREE customized quote!
History of Rasta Taco Part II

History of Rasta Taco Part II

Last week, we brought you the blog post about Rasta Taco’s beginning! If you missed it, you can check that out HERE. The story continues… Since 2009, Rasta Taco has been exclusively licensed with and operated by Melendez’ cousin, Justin Prietto of the Huntington Catering Company, freeing Melendez to focus on business development. Prietto Catering, LLC operates:
These four companies are all co-branded and collectively one of the largest catering companies in Southern California, operating out of a 4,000 square foot facility in Pasadena. Each entity maintains agreed upon standards of quality and service. What does this mean to you? Rasta Taco has exclusive access to these companies to ensure that your event is complete with any and all items you may need!
Los Angeles Magazine Rasta Taco

Los Angeles Magazine: Rasta Taco

We’re pretty stoked about our full page ad in the Los Angeles magazine. It just so happens to be the Food Lovers Guide to L.A.! Go pick up your copy and tear that Rasta Taco ad out… It would look great above your fireplace or even hanging on the wall at your office. Come on Los Angeles get down with some Rasta Taco at your next event. Flip through the pages, soak it in! Los Angeles Magazine
Menu Monday Agua Frescas

Menu Monday: Agua Frescas

Have you tried our Agua Frescas? There’s several flavors to choose from strawberry, pineapple and watermelon. Of course, we offer the classic Horchata too. That’s our favorite (besides a cold beer). Complete your Rasta Taco menu with any of these flavors. Feel free to mix and match! Your guests will feel refreshed and hydrated. Our Agua Frescas pair great with any of our gourmet tacos!
History of Rasta Taco

History of Rasta Taco

In honor of Flashback Friday, we thought we’d give you the low down on Rasta Taco. Mario “Maji” Melendez started Rasta Taco as the only mobile taco catering company in the area. He created the overall business plan and chose the name on the back of a napkin while vacationing in Jamaica. Upon return, he launched the company website (RastaTaco.com) and within 45 minutes, Rasta Taco booked its first event. Rasta Taco started with just 1 taco cart that was custom-designed and manufactured in Tijuana, Mexico and a rental van. Today, there are 10 taco carts, 5 vans and one full beverage service Mobile Margarita Bar made from a fully restored 1965 GMC bread truck. Management still uses the same company to build the custom stainless steel taco carts and the company has manufactured 20 new and replacement taco carts for Rasta Taco over the years. Rasta Taco catering is a simple idea: offer the best street taco in a very simple format.