This weekend, Breddos Tacos, the London taco truck that recently opened a permanent restaurant, invited Wesley Avila of LA's Guerrilla Tacos into their kitchen for a three-day takeover party. With both Breddos and Guerilla known for their unconventional (and sometimes illegal) homages to the vibrant food of roadside taquerias, the mezcal was bound to flow at this "tacover."
We caught up with the chefs to find out what went down.
Nud Dudhia, co-founder and chef at London's Breddos Tacos Chris [Breddos Tacos co-founder] and I travelled quite extensively throughout America and Mexico in search of tacos and inspiration. We came across Wes Avila and his Guerrilla Tacos food truck about three years ago when we were in Los Angeles. When we tasted his food, we realised he was doing really similar things to us in terms of taking the best ingredients and applying Mexican and global influences to them.
Over about a year, we kept randomly being in the same city. We bumped into Wes in New York last year and ended up having a night out. Then we were in Tijuana at the Baja Culinary Fest and Wes was cooking there, so we bumped into him again. We ended up becoming friends and when we were opening our place, we said he should come over and cook. So flights were booked and we spent the week visiting suppliers together before the three-day takeover this past weekend.
We'd never done a collaboration like this and we'd never had anyone else in our kitchen apart from our team. It was lots of new processes but it fell into place and Wes just slotted himself in. He was on the pass with me and the food was flying out. In all honesty, it was way smoother than I thought it was going to be. It was a seamless service, which is very rare!
I emailed Wes before he came with a list of what's in season over here at the moment, what we're getting from the sea in Cornwall, and what we're getting from the land. I wanted him to see first-hand the kind of produce that we're working with in the UK. In the US, I think the food culture here is still quite badly perceived and I don't think he was expecting much!
We went to visit the dry-aging room at Turner & George, one of our meat suppliers. We looked at furry, funky meats that have been aging for up to 100 days. There's mould all over them and I think for Wes, that was quite revelatory. We also went to Mash Purveyors who are our veg suppliers. They have a big warehouse where you can walk through lines and lines of all the food. Ideas for dishes just started coming out as we were walking along. It just all fell into place.
It also helped that we were stuck in London traffic for hours, marginally hungover. It's been quite a hungover week. We probably planned about four or five of the dishes just in a 20-minute period.
During service, the atmosphere was great. There was a lot of seafood and we had lots of dishes from Wes like clams with a raw tomatillo chili, which was amazing. We got these big Palourde clams and chowder clams from Cornwall. I did a squid dish with crispy pork and the beef dish, which really seemed to get people going, was a 90-day-aged piece of rump. It tasted like blue cheese and was incredible.
Yesterday's final service was really good fun. We came up with a new menu on the fly, using up all the ingredients we'd bought. We just continued the party at Breddos afterwards. We had loads of staff who'd been working really hard and we had some friends over from other London restaurants that we'd visited in the week. Some guys from The Clove Club popped in for a few tacos as well as some of the guys from Lyle's and other industry people. We ended up just drinking tequila and mezcal until the early hours of the morning.
Wesley Avila, chef and founder of Guerilla Tacos This weekend was my first time in London and was pretty much spent eating and hanging out, seeing what restaurants and bars are like here, before starting the takeover at Breddos. We went to Lyle's, The Clove Club, and St. John. I've enjoyed my time here very much so! Also, everything has been like within two miles of my hotel, so it makes me want to come back and explore some more.
As far as comparing restaurants in LA and London, all I know was that London wasn't the place to eat 15 years ago. Now there are a lot of really cool restaurants with innovative chefs and a lot of ingredient-driven places, which is great. One thing I did notice here is that there's more of a sit-down atmosphere. There are way more casual places in LA where you can just walk up and get a bite. And I think in terms of tacos, the corn is perhaps better in LA. But the aesthetic of the taquerias in London is pretty close, the flavours are really good, as well as the ambience.
We also went to see where Breddos source their produce. There were a couple of things that we tasted there that inspired us to bring back to the restaurant. We did this piece of rump with sprout flowers and fujicco, which is this salted Japanese seaweed. We also had on dishes like an oxtail tacos and sweet potato tacos.
After going and seeing the produce, we adapted the menu. There's stuff that's abundant in the States that isn't here. I worked with ingredients that I hadn't cooked with before but that's part of the fun. And by the second seating we did on the Friday, everything was like clockwork. There was a good flow to the evening.
It was a completely fresh, new crowd to the food we do at Guerrilla Tacos. Most people had never tried our food before. When I was walking around the floor, there was a good vibe and people were really digging the collaboration, especially the oxtail and the steak.
It's been great—tacos all day followed by some pretty late nights.
As told to Daisy Meager.
Photos by Christopher Bethell.