Last year's Queso Bowl took place at The Friendly Spot in Southtown. Photo courtesy of Young Texans Against Cancer.

The fight against cancer has inspired a medley of creative fundraising and awareness efforts, but the Young Texans Against Cancer (YTAC) San Antonio’s Queso Bowl brings a South Texas touch to a world-wide issue.

“Our organization does several other fundraisers throughout the year, like a fishing tournament, a golf tournament, but we wanted to do a signature San Antonio event,” said Robert Rochelle, YTAC San Antonio president. In its third year, the Queso Bowl has already raised tens of thousands of dollars for local cancer fighting organizations and research by bringing together several local chefs for a friendly competition to determine who makes the best queso in town.

“We knew that that would be something that people would rally around,” Rochelle said.

The 2016 Queso Bowl will take place at the former Cavender Cadillac dealership at 801 Broadway Street on Thursday, May 5 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. General tickets are $30 in advance or $40 at the door, and VIP tickets – which include premium margaritas and sangria – cost $60 in advance or $70 at the door. To purchase tickets, click here.

Rene Guerrero, former chef at Tacos and Tequlia, competed in the 2015 Queso Bowl. Photo courtesy of Young Texans Against Cancer.
Rene Guerrero, former chef at Tacos and Tequlia, competed in the 2015 Queso Bowl. Photo courtesy of Young Texans Against Cancer.

Queso Bowl attendees can enjoy live music, games, and free beer from Corona San Antonio, and of course nearly a dozen different types of homemade queso made by chefs from Smoke Shack BBQThe Granary ‘Cue & BrewORDERUPTNT Tacos and Tequila-San AntonioLüke San Antonio River Walk, and more, all competing to win the coveted Queso Bowl Champion Award or the Peoples’ Choice Award.

The 2016 Queso Bowl judges include: David and Carol Basso, founders of 1 Million 4 Anna Foundation; Caitlin Pearce, Methodist Children’s Hospital-San Antonio child life specialist; Tierney Titus, Methodist Children’s Hospital-San Antonio child life specialist; and David Custer, father of Ewing’s sarcoma warrior.

Held this year on Thursday, May 5, the Queso Bowl is Silver Eagle Distributor’s official Cinco de Mayo event, a partnership that Rochelle and the YTAC team are hoping will “take (the event) to the next level” in terms of attendance and fundraising. Last year, the event netted around $15,000, with 100% of the proceeds going to local cancer fighting organizations that benefit patients and their families like Thrivewell Cancer Foundation, among others. This year, Rochelle is aiming for a turnout of around 500 people, more than double that of last year.

Young Texans Against Cancer is a nonprofit organization comprised of young men and women whose lives have been touched by cancer or are seeking to be more involved in the cancer community. It started in 2001 in Houston and now has chapters in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. Collectively, the organization has raised more than $10 million statewide for cancer causes like Camp DiscoveryBlue Bird Auxiliary, and 1 Million 4 Anna Foundation.

YTAC San Antonio – which was founded in 2009 by Brent Conger – has raised nearly $500,000 to date through its various fundraisers.

“Brent bootstrapped this group in San Antonio and is largely responsible for its success and growth,” Rochelle said. “In 2009, after his dad had been battling cancer for nine years, he wanted to do something to raise awareness and education, and make a difference.”

For more information on the Queso Bowl, visit their website or their Facebook page here.

Top image: Queso Bowl 2015 took place at The Friendly Spot in Southtown. Photo courtesy of Young Texans Against Cancer.

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Camille Garcia

Camille Garcia is a journalist born and raised in San Antonio. She formerly worked at the San Antonio Report as assistant editor and reporter. Her email is camillenicgarcia@gmail.com