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‘My taco, my choice!’ chef’s competition poised to be a delicious act of resistance

Chef PanPan Thiravechyan of Basil the Bold, a Thai restaurant in Dogpatch, may be one of the contestants at "My Taco, My Choice!," a chefs' competition and fundraiser on March 7. | Courtesy Basil the Bold

In the months following the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and end abortion rights, countless individuals and organizations across the country have mobilized to protect access to reproductive health care, and Merkado restaurant in SoMa is the latest to join that number. On March 7, the night before International Women’s Day, 12 women chefs across the Bay Area will gather at Merkado to compete for the title of “Best Taco” while raising money to support reproductive rights. 

The chef contestants at the “My Taco, My Choice!” event will have one shot—and just one taco—at two prizes. One will be decided by the judges and another, the “People’s Choice Taco,” will be determined by the 200 guests in attendance. 

This culinary showdown is first and foremost a fundraiser for the Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, a New York City-based nonprofit that advocates for access to reproductive health care within Latinx communities across the U.S.  

Fabien Santos, the owner of the tequila and mezcal-focused eatery near Oracle Park, wrote in a press release that the fundraiser was sparked by a feeling of unrest after the June 2022 Supreme Court decision that reversed the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion. 

“Like everyone else who supports human rights, the Merkado familia and I were stunned and saddened by last year’s announcement of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and subsequent limiting of access to abortions in states around the country,” Santos said. 

The Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice’s executive director, Lupe M. Rodríguez, will serve as one of the three judges, joined by Jessica Kapoor of Saison Hospitality and Marcia Gagliardi, the prolific restaurant columnist behind Tablehopper. Rodríguez wrote that now is a critical turning point for communities that have historically been denied their bodily autonomy. 

“For too long, complex systems of oppression have robbed Latinas/xs of the resources we need to make informed decisions about our bodies and lives,” she wrote. “To overcome these barriers, we are building a base of activists across states, shifting culture and shaping policies informed by our lived realities.”

The institute works on grassroots and policy levels to support Latinx individuals seeking health care through leadership development, education, voter engagement and advocacy. For example, it prioritizes access to municipal IDs for undocumented people as a way to eliminate barriers to reproductive health care. 

ABC7 News reporter and anchor Gloria Rodríguez will host the Taco Tuesday competition. Though the full slate of contestants for "My Taco, My Choice!" is still to come, chefs Emily Lim of Dabao Singapore and PanPan Thiravechyan of Basil the Bold, both in Dogpatch, are strong possibilities. 

My Taco, My Choice!

📍 130 Townsend St., SF
🗓️ Tuesday, March 7 | 5-10 p.m.
🎟️ $45 in advance | $50 door