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111019-mda-nws-mole

This is the mole served at Old Mexico restaurant in Rock Island.

MOLINE — Area cooks will get saucy on Saturday when Mercado on Fifth hosts its inaugural Mole Cook-Off and Fiesta at the Robert & Blenda Ontiveros Teen Center, 1122 5th Ave., Moline.

Mole (pronounced MO-lay) is a traditional Mexican sauce often made with chili peppers, spices, nuts, dried fruits and chocolate, according to a news release from Mercado on Fifth, a nonprofit organization. Ingredients are roasted and ground into a paste, then broth or water is added.

There are more than 70 types of the sauce, and many contain more than 30 ingredients. “Making this sauce from scratch is a time-consuming labor of love (that’s) usually reserved for special occasions,” the release states.

The Cook-Off and Fiesta will run from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday. During the event, more than a dozen local chefs will compete for the title of Best Mole in the Quad-Cities. There also will be awards for Judges’ Choice, Fan Favorite, and Fan Favorite runner-up.

“Patrons can expect to taste green mole, black mole, yellow mole, red mole and pumpkin mole,” said Melissa Freidhof-Rodgers, Mercado director. 

People who buy $5 tickets will be entitled to samples, two votes, and a bowl of chicken and rice to cover with moles. Other food, juices, beer and wine will be available for purchase.

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The fiesta also will include music and entertainment by Prestige Productions, as well as a make-and-take folk-art activity led by local artist Ana Garza Moore.

Event sponsors will include Group O, TBK Bank, Martin Bros. Food Distributing and Prestige Productions, which will have representatives on the team of judges.

“Being Mexican and working for a Latinx-founded company, I feel very proud to be judging the Mole Cook-Off,” said Group O Production Manager Jesus Lopez. “There’s not a better dish to share.”

Mercado hosts Friday night markets at 12th Street and 5th Avenue in Moline during warmer months. The cook-off and fiesta will launch Mercado’s off-season events.

For more information about the cook-off and other upcoming events, visit facebook.com/mercadoonfifth.

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