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Lupita's about to get taste of national exposure

Rose Festival exploits of Mexican restaurant in Woodburn to be aired on new Food Network reality show


Lupita’s, a traditional Mexican restaurant and food stand based in downtown Woodburn, is scheduled to be featured next month on the new reality series “Carnival Eats,” hosted by Noah Cappe.

The show, which is airing on the Cooking Channel/Food Network Canada, follows Cappe as he explores the mouth-watering and outrageous foods found at fairs anby: TYLER FRANCKE - Lupita's owner Martin Ochoa works in his restaurant's kitchen last week.d carnivals around the country.

According to restaurant owner and founder Martin Ochoa, Lupita’s earned its spot on the program while participating in the Portland Rose Festival earlier this year. He said one of the show’s producers called him prior to the festival to talk about his restaurant.

“They called and wanted to see if they like what we’re doing,” he explained. “They said, if they liked what we’re doing, they would come and do a show.”

Whatever Ochoa said must have piqued the showrunners’ interests, because the “Carnival Eats” crew ended up spending several hours with him and the Lupita’s crew at the Rose Festival, hearing about their story and filming their exploits.

“I told them all about the history of the restauranby: TYLER FRANCKE - Pictured is an order of the beef tongue tacos that the crews of Lupita's and the Food Network show 'Carnival Eats' used to have a bit of fun with attendees at the Rose Festival in Portland.t,” he said. “We’re totally a family-run business, and we do authentic Mexican food — everything fresh.”

That includes a few foods that American palettes are not generally acquainted with, including beef cheek, tripe (stomach) and tongue — which the “Carnival Eats” crew seemed particularly interested in.

According to Ochoa, Cappe and company wanted to have a bit of fun with some of the Rose Festival’s attendees while they were in town. They asked Lupita’s to whip up a pile of beef tongue tacos and hand them out to passers-by.

The festival-goers thought they were getting a tasty taco for free, when, in actuality, the show’s producers were bartering the snack in exchange for the chance to film the unsuspecting people’s reactions after they were told they’d just eaten cow tongue.

Ochoa laughed when recalling the prank.

“We make tripe and tongue, and it sells really well to Hispanics, but not so much for white people,” he said. “But people are trying it more. Everybody seems to like it when they try it.”

In addition to Martin Ochoa, two of his children were also helping out at the Rose Festival and filmed by the crew: his son, Junior, 27, and one of his six daughters, Teresa, 20.

“They seemed to really like that,” he said of his kids.

First opened in 1996, Lupita’s tent and food truck have become common fixtures at fairs and carnivals throughout the region.

Ochoa said he also appears at Cinco de Mayo in Portland, the Linn and Multnomah county fairs and several events at the Molalla Buckeroo Grounds, as well as five scheduled for this year in Washington.

“We’ve gotten very busy with that kind of thing,” he said.

Though Lupita’s has been featured in local and regional media before, especially those outlets aimed at Latino audiences, Ochoa said “Carnival Eats,” which premieres in August, will be the biggest exposure his little restaurant has seen, by far.

“It will probably be good for me,” he said with a smile. “I’m looking forward to seeing it.”




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