Tucson, Ariz—And the race is on!  Lots of tequila is being swirled, sipped and mixed by the 15 finalists all over Tucson (and in Sonora) as the day for the World Margarita Championship™ approaches. The action begins at one of Tucson’s most anticipated signature events  on Friday, October 25th at 6pm at the Tucson Museum of  Art .

The World Margarita Championship™ exemplifies the culinary soul and spirit of Tucson. With its proximity to Mexico, Tucson celebrates and enjoys agave spirits like no other place in America.  Margaritas created by the 2013 participants will use tequila provided by Tequila Penasco, Patron, Sauza, Avion, and PartidaEach entree must be considered  a “classic  margarita” in that in addition to tequila, a classic margarita should always contain a sweetening ingredient, a tart citrus ingredient, and an orange component.  The results are always surprising, exciting and fantastic, posing no easy task for the judges or attendees in deciding  how to vote.

This year’s challengers include: Sonja Darcangelo from Dakota Cafe, Jeffrey Hughes from Jonathan’s Cork, Eric Smith from Kingfisher, Ryan Clark from Lodge on the Desert (last year’s winner of the World’s Greatest Margarita award), Gabe Hostetler from Cushing Street, The Bar Staff from Marinaterra Resort in Sonora (last year’s winner of  The People’s Choice Award), Juliana Portillo from La Fuente, Lisa Mytich from Tanque Verde Ranch, Eric Harding from PY Steakhouse at Casino del Sol,  Greystone La Pointe from Brushfire Grill, Joey Freeland from Nimbus, Nate Anderson from The Parish,  Aric Mussman from Noble Hops, Renee Kreager from Renee’s Organic  Oven, and Peyton Reavis from Pastiche.

The first two mixologists will step up to the demonstration stage at 6pm to create their version of the classic margarita for the panel of judges. Throughout the evening,  guests are invited to sample all 15 margarita entries as well as food and beverages from 19 Tucson Original members including: Bluefin Seafood Bistro, Brushfire BBQ, Cafe 54, Eclectic Cafe, Gourmet Girls Gluten Free Bistro, Jonathan’s Cork, Lodge on the Desert, Magpie’s Pizza, Mama’s Hawaiian BBQ, Mama Louisa’s, Monkey Burger, Pastiche, Renee’s Organic Oven, Rocco’s Little Chicago, Tanque Verde Ranch, the restaurants at Casino del Sol, Vero Amore, Arbuckles Coffee and Maya Tea.

Two awards will be presented at the end of the evening:  The “People’s Choice Award” determined by votes submitted by attendees, and the award for the “World’s Greatest Margarita” based on the votes of the esteemed judges panel which will include:

Jennifer English: A pioneer in culinary broadcasting, winner of both James Beard and Gracie Allen awards, a leading flavor trend expert in the country, and a Tucson treasure. A co-founder of the World Margarita Championship™ Jennifer is a highly respected authority in the world of cocktails. She recently completed the definitive book on The Manhattan Cocktail for the University of Kentucky press and is the Vice President of the New Orleans Culinary & Cultural Preservation Society which produces the Tales of the Cocktail event annually. She is host of the BOTTOM’S UP! radio show that broadcasts weekly.

Edie Jarolim is the Contributing Dining Editor for Tucson Guide, the Tucson editor for the Zagat Survey, and has written about food and spirits for a variety of national magazines, including Imbibe, Sunset, and USAirways.  She wrote about touring the tequila estates and distilleries in Jalisco for National Geographic Traveler, and she is the author of the Complete Idiot’s Travel Guide to Mexico’s Beach Resorts, which required a lot of margarita sampling to research

C.J. Hamm, writer of Tucson Weekly’s “Noshing Around”, and contributor to “Chow”, is a fanatical foodie who spent many years in the food and beverage industry and even more time as a consumer of fine food and (many) drinks. C.J. has worked with the finest Tequilas in his time at the (now defunct) Cottonwood Cafe, and can not wait to see what’s shakin’ with this year’s competitors.

Rita Connelly – Rita Connelly writes about food, wine, cocktails all things culinary. Her work can be found at, the Tucson Weekly and on her Facebook page, The Well-Fed Foodie. Her relationship with tequila goes back to the days when she had to use a fake I’d to get into bars. She’s excited about all the good food things that are happening in Tucson.

Robert Plotkin: An expert in the field of mixology and beverage management, with over 30 years of industry experience and writing for trade publications including Sante Magazine, Cheers, Beverage Dynamics, State Ways Magazine, Restaurant Hospitality, and Wine & Spirits International.

Karyn Zoldan-  Karyn Zoldan is a freelance writer/blogger/web marketer with a passion for fabulous food and the happiest of happy hours. She writes Circle of Food and Tucson Tails blogs and in her spare time raises money for pet rescues.

Valerie Verkerke – Valerie Verkerke has been a talented caterer, food stylist, mixologist, and teacher of the finer things in life for 22 years.  She trained and worked with some of the country’s top chefs, at The Coyote in Santa Fe, City Restaurant in Los Angeles, and Adobe Grill in Malibu. She currently teaching a variety cooking classes.

Chef Noel Ridsdale – has been in the culinary field for over 25 years, and is currently the academic director of the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Tucson,.  He coaches students in hot food competitions and is producing the next generation of leaders in the hospitality industry.  He has enjoyed successes of coaching at the highest levels, and instills values in students that enable them to progress into successful careers.

Adding greatly to the excitement of the evening , the dynamic team of two of Tucson’s favorite sports heroes Joseph Blair and John Fina will provide lively commentary throughout the evening:

Joseph Blair – one of Tucson’s home grown sports stars whose years as a Wildcat under coach Lute Olsen led him to a successful career as a professional basketball star for many years.  An avid home cook and mixologist, Joseph is an aficionado of all things southwest including margaritas. He is also the founder of the Blair Charity Group, this year’s non-profit recipient of a portion of the proceeds from the World Margarita Championship.

John Fina – – Returning for his 3rd year as emcee of the World Margarita Championship, Fina is a former Salpointe and UA football star who went on to professional greatness with the Buffalo Bills for 10 years. In 2010, Fina appeared on the Travel Channel‘s show Food Wars  He is a creative and enthusiastic chef  who loves to cook with his four children ages 7-13.

Admission to the World Margarita Championship™ is $50 per person in advance ($60 at the door on day of the event). Prior to Friday, October 25, tickets may be purchased on line at . For additional information on the Tucson Originals contact Colette Landeen at  520-343-9985.  For photos or additional details on the event, please contact Norma Gentry at 520-318-9445 or .

Media Contact:

Norma Gentry
ProVentures, Inc
cell 520-237-4670