Greg Matonis at last year’s Salsa Festival in Redwood City. Matonis is aiming for the ‘People’s Choice’ award this year.
The best and the brightest salsa makers in the area will gather in Redwood City tomorrow and that includes two-time winner Greg Matonis, while the delicious and dangerous combination of beer and bacon will hit San Mateo for the first time ever.
Matonis, 58, lives and breathes salsa and first began making his own years ago. This is his sixth year at the sixth annual, admission free Redwood City Salsa Festival.
“With the amount I eat, it costs too much to buy,” said the Redwood City resident of 34 years. “I can eat a huge jar for breakfast or a snack. Eating it is the ultimate goal.”
The event takes place throughout downtown Redwood City, with multiple stages of live entertainment and a salsa competition and tasting.
He came away with best hot sauce the first year of the event and won the people’s choice award in the second year. He is going for the mild competition this year because he couldn’t find any good hot peppers this past year and that there is less competition in the mild category.
So what’s the secret sauce?
Not so secret, Matonis said. He uses the same 10-year-old family recipe his wife came up with each year, but he continues perfecting it each year.
“I have a recipe right down to a T,” he said. “It’s sort of secret recipe, but it’s not a difficult recipe. It’s just vegetables and there’s not a secret ingredient. I sometimes add a few more peppers or onions to get a higher yield.”
Although his recipe does not have a name, his nickname is “The Spaniard.”
Chefs prepare everything on site, putting in a couple hours to prepare their salsa. Matonis prepares nine gallons of salsa and said most years he runs completely out by the end of the day.
What does he look forward to the most?
“Winning people’s choice this year,” he said.
This year, there will be a $500 prize and award for people’s choice salsa, $250 prize and award for best mild salsa, $250 prize and award for best hot salsa and $150 prize and award for best-decorated booth. There will be a public salsa tasting from noon-5 p.m.
Multiple stages will feature salsa and jazz music. Local restaurants will serve food as well. The festival features public tequila tasting, free hands-on art projects, a children’s play area complete with bounce houses and more. The event runs from noon-8 p.m.
“I enjoy making it,” Matonis said. “It gives you a kick when people love your salsa too.”
Bacon & Brew
In San Mateo, Bacon & Brew Festival comes about as a result of the San Mateo Chamber of Commerce’s effort to develop something that would bring awareness to the city.
“The first annual Bacon & Brew Festival is a unique community event for young and old alike,” said Cheryl Angeles, president and CEO of the San Mateo Area Chamber of Commerce. “People should come to the festival in beautiful Central Park, if they love good food, especially bacon and great crafted micro-brews.”
Dishes include truffled bacon nachos, bacon wrapped tri-tip, pork belly barbecue tacos, chocolate brownies topped with bacon and caramel, bacon flavored pastries, bacon pupusas and more.
Local bands will be performing, including Big Wave, Dutch Uncle and College of San Mateo’s Jazz Combo. The Asiya Shriners group is bringing a dunk tank to benefit its Shriners Hospitals for Children.
The event will be on the baseball field at Central Park on the corner of Fifth Avenue and El Camino Real.
Tickets are $10. Admission includes festival entry and a large beer, glass of wine or a soft drink for those under 21. Only ticket holders with wristband receive the free drink. Those 12 and under are free and 17-year-olds and under must be accompanied by a ticket holding adult.
To order tickets, visit sanmateochamber.org/bbf, call 401-2440, or stop by the San Mateo Area Chamber office at 1700 S. El Camino Real, Suite 108 in San Mateo. It runs from noon-6 p.m.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105