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The ‘stache behind Tango & Stache

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Joshua Wilder-Oakley Tango & Stache
The man with the 'stache sure can cook. Joshua Wilder-Oakley trots out his Tango & Stache popup Sunday at Asiento. (Courtesy Joshua Wilder-Oakley)

Upon meeting Tango & Stache creator Joshua Wilder-Oakley, you might first notice his Wyatt Earp facial hair and wonder: Which came first? The restaurant name, or the mustache:

“I guess the ‘stache came first. It’s come and gone over the years.”

But don’t be fooled, there’s certainly far more to this foodster than awesome facial fuzz. His pop-up soul food restaurant Tango & Stache — which makes another Mission District appearance this Sunday at Asiento — has gained quite a following in just a short time.

Wilder-Oakley only started in late June of this year, but his popularity has scored him multiple opportunities outside of his own pop-up venture. He’s found himself booked, cooking for two or three events a week. With pure excitement twinkling from his blue eyes, he says of the experience:

“It’s wild. I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s real.”

And even with the ever-growing schedule, his mission stays simple: To show everyone how accessible amazing food can be:

“There’s this sense of celebrity around food. I want bring a community feel. … I want people to feel like I’m cooking for them in my own kitchen.”

Refreshing talk, coming from a chef with a fine dining background who has experience in high-end eateries: His resume includes a year at Gary Danko and a four-year stint at Michael Mina at which time he “worked just about every station” behind the scenes.

But in the kitchens of beautiful establishments with highly-touted menus, that community feel was missing:

“I didn’t know who was growing the food, and I didn’t know who was eating the food. … And the people eating the food didn’t know who was making the food. … I would love to have a restaurant where I also grew my own food.”

The want to bring people into his own kitchen and the essence behind his soul food menu comes from a very pin-pointed inspiration: His Louisiana-born grandmother. He happily recalls as he remembers some of his favorite dishes:

She is where I learned to love to cook. She was a cook, not a chef.”

Wilder-Oakley brings his signature pulled-pork sandwich and “white boy slaw” to a hungry Mission District Sunday, and to anybody else who’s down to enjoy some delicious, and un-intimidating fare. Who wouldn’t want to try pork in a coca-cola chipotle BBQ sauce?!

Tango & Stache will be making its most recent pop-up this Sunday at 5 p.m. at Asiento, 2730 21st Street at Bryant in San Francisco.

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