In addition to his recording and touring duties as lead singer of 90s pop punk favorites The Offspring, Dexter Holland is launching a taco eating competition in his home town of Huntington Beach with his own hot sauce. Titled the Gringo Bandito Taco Challenge, the August 3 throwdown will take place at one of the frontman's favorite pit stops, Fred’s Mexican Cafe, and feature the food-scarfing prowess of Japanese competitve eating legend Takeru Kobayashi. It's the six-time Nathan's Hot Dog Eating champion's first West Coast contest and he'll be taking on competitors including Matt “Sweet Tooth” Cohen, Dave “US Male” Goldstein and Furious Pete to determine who can eat the most tacos in 10 minutes for a $5,000 prize. Holland spoke to The Feast about 'responsible overeating,' and more.
Tell us about the taco eating competition next week and how you got involved.
Well, I sort of put it together. I started Gringo Bandito hot sauce about five years ago. I grew up in Orange County my entire life, I love it down here and I love Mexican food. On a whim I thought having my own hot sauce would be kind of fun. What I didn’t expect is that people would like it as much as they did.
How did you meet Takeru Kobayashi, the famous competitive eater?
I met Kobayashi on tour, backstage at our show. I gave him a bottle of my hot sauce for him to try. He had the whole bottle. He told me, ‘I could drink 65 of these.’ He actually had a number! We talked on and off for a couple of years through an interpreter and it started the wheels turning. There was nothing like the east coast's hot dog eating contest on the west coast. So I called him up a few months ago and said I’ve love to put a contest together. He was into it. We talked about doing it for the next few years.
We understand there will be hundreds of chicken tacos. Are you actually competing yourself?
I’m just spectating.
Originally you were doing fish tacos, but switched to chicken because of the shortage due to overfishing.
Exactly. There's only so many resources that we have, and we have to be careful about how we use them. That's why in this contest, we are trying to overeat responsibly.
Where you love eating Mexican food in LA?
When I’m in LA I love El Tepeyac. Down here one of my favorite places is a little hole-in-the-wall. It’s just called Taqueria. It’s on the corner of Greenvale and Westminster. I really don’t think it has a name. I love the three little tacos, al pastor.
What do you eat when you're on tour?
I love Shake Shack in New York. I’ve been there several times for the cheeseburger. It’s like a tiny little park right in the middle of the city.
Where do you like to go in your neighborhood?
Cronic Taco is great and Wahoo. They are chains, but there is nothing wrong with that. A really nice place, a little further down in Newport is called Xavier’s. It’s upscale Mexican in Crystal Cove. I love the queso and margaritas that they make.
Would you ever own a restaurant?
You know I never count anything out. I’ve thought about opening a bar or a restaurant; it would have to be a hole in the wall, a taqueria or bar. [The Feast]