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Not  many Anglos know why Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for “the fifth of May.” The day commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

It’s not even Mexico’s Independence Day; that’s September 16th, 1810. And to add to the confusion further, Mexican independence wasn’t recognized until September 27, 1821.

Anglo or not, Ivy Knight put together a salsa competition to start the Cinco celebrations off two days early, as part of her 86 Monday Series at The Drake Hotel. She invited six chefs, including yours truly, to battle it out. To warm things up, a hot and sexy salsa all to herself,  Anastasia providing some burlesque entertainment, and here’s how it went down:

First Place: good friend Rossy Earle (below), the Panamanian chef of the Bell Fountain Inn

First Prize: a piñata crow

Best Salsa: hearts of palm, avocado and tomato

Second Place: Indalicio Marroguin, (right; that’s me on the left), chef of Rebozos, with a salsa roja, beans and sour cream.

Third Place; Howard Drubrosvky and Chris Scott (centre left and right in two black jackets), chef-owners of L.A.B, with their beautiful tomato, smoked tequilla and pineapple salsa. That’s Ivy on the left.

Buddha Dog owner Andre Hunter brought a sweet tomatillo salsa. Chef Nick Liu of Niagara Street Café make a lobster and chorizo salsa, that it was very delicious. And to honor the colours of the Mexican flag colors, I made bandera salsa, with a 12-chili salsa roja and an avocado and tomatillo salsa.

The battle is on….

Thanks to our host Ivy and The Drake Hotel for a great night.
Yours in hot, sexy, Toronto salsas
Que Viva Mexico!

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*Spanish for: "Mmm. Wow. That's good!"