Ivan Calderon, founder and chef of Taco Mesa and Taco Rosa, introduced a new concept, Taco Mesa—Tortillería Orgánica & Café in Orange, California. The new restaurant, which is slated to open at the end of April 2017, will provide artisan GMO-free corn masa and tortillas to all his locations. Recognized for pioneering healthy and authentic Mexican cuisine in Orange County, Calderon builds upon 25 years of success with this expansion.

“With this evolution of our brand, we continue to honor our ancestors, our bodies, and the earth,” says Calderon, who also owns Taco Rosa in Irvine and Newport Beach, in addition to Taco Mesa in Costa Mesa, Mission Viejo, and Ladera Ranch. “We are committed to decolonizing and indigenizing Mexican cuisine by taking it back to its roots, which is why sourcing the GMO-free corn and taking an artisan approach to making masa is such an important step for us.”

A staggering 92 percent of all corn in the world is genetically modified. In February, Calderon made the switch to GMO-free corn at all six of his locations, but the opening of Taco Mesa—Tortillería Orgánica & Café will give him control over sourcing, along with the creative freedom to mix unique corn masa blends that incorporate superfoods and spices.

Taco Mesa—Tortilleria Orgánica & Café will continue to serve the healthy, authentic Mexican classics that have defined the brand for the last 25 years, but will expand its offerings to include gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options, as well as organic grab-and-go fresh salads, hot entrees, aguas frescas, and organic cold-pressed juices. Taco Mesa—Tortillería Orgánica & Café will also feature an expanded pastelería displaying fresh-baked Mexican pastries including meringues, tres leches, and profiteroles, in addition to innovative pastries using ancient grains and healthier ingredients developed exclusively for the café . Adjacent to the pastry display will be a sleek Modbar espresso station—the first of its kind in Orange County—serving direct trade Stumptown Coffee.

With the capacity to produce 200 dozen tortillas per hour, Calderon intends to wholesale his GMO-free corn products to local retailers and restaurants.

“This evolution is about something much bigger than our brand,” says Calderon. “We want to create a catalyst for change in our industry, both locally and worldwide. We intend to do so by selling our GMO-free corn masa and tortillas to other restaurants and by furthering the evolution of our brand by creating a replicable model that will take GMO-free corn and true Mexican cuisine overseas.”

After 25 years, Calderon continues to set the pace for healthy, authentic, and sustainable Mexican cuisine in Orange County by serving GMO-free corn; sourcing organic greens and edible flowers from hyper-local, eco-friendly farmers including Adam Navidi’s aquaponic Future Foods Farms in Brea, and heirloom produce from Black Sheep Farms in Riverside; and offering sustainably caught wild seafood guided by Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch whenever possible. Committed to authenticity, sustainability, and quality, the ingredients and traditional cooking methods used at Taco Mesa and Taco Rosa are reflective of the brands’ integrity.

Fast Casual, Growth, News