Pop Up “Pestaurant” in Santa Monica

Ever wondered what cooked crickets would taste like? Now you have the chance to try some crunchy and tasty grasshoppers, juicy mealworms and plenty more.

On Saturday Oct. 8, Western Exterminator Company and Mando Taco will host a pop-up “Pestaurant” in the heart of Santa Monica. Located at the center of the 1300 block on the Third Street Promenade between 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

The “Pestaurant” is designed to raise awareness of pests in an entertaining, and experiential way. People will be encouraged to taste a variety of dishes created for the pop up event. Western Exterminator, celebrating their 95th anniversary this year, wants to highlight the fact that while bugs in your home or business can be a headaches, some insects are actually a wonderful, affordable, and protein rich food source.

Count on Mando Taco to serve the ‘Jamaican Me Hoppy Jerked Seasoned Grasshoppers with Pineapple Salsa’, or the ‘Deep South BBQ Beetle Tacos’. They will also provide dessert, otherwise known as ‘Rice Cricket Treats’.

Every time a bug dish is sampled Western Exterminator will donate one dollar to the Westside Food Bank. There will also be a cricket eating contest and will donate $10 per each participant to the organization.

“Western Exterminator is proud to be donating a minimum of $3,000 to the Westside Food Bank to further its mission to distribute as much food as possible to local agencies with food assistance programs and to reduce food waste on the Westside of Los Angeles,” said Eric Rimiller, Vice President of West Markets.

“Each year, the Westside Food Bank distributes 4.5 million pounds of food to over 70 local social service agencies. We’re hoping that the money Western Exterminator donates for people eating delicious bug-infused dishes will help even more Los Angeles-area residents in need get the assistance they deserve.”

Eating insects otherwise known as entomophagy, is a diet that is enjoyed by millions of people around the world, making a great substitute for protein.

Crickets, often served fried or sautéed are among the most common insects eaten. Some cultures prefer grasshoppers, known to be high protein and less fat.

Edible insects are far more environmentally friendly. Requiring less food and water, their carbon footprint is almost invisible.

“The ‘Pestaurant’ concept is one that we have implemented in a number of cities across the West Coast, and has been very well-received by those adventurous enough to give these unique dishes a try,” said Rimiller.

Western Exterminator Company felt it was best to partner with Mando Taco, a small taco eatery known for their inventive and creative tacos. Featuring fillings from international cuisines, tacos with a hint of Thai, Cajun or Indian spices just to name a few. Customer line up for the handmade flour and wheat tortillas, in addition to the wraps and bowls they offer.

“The thing about some of these insects, a cricket especially is that they actually have no flavor themselves and take on the taste of whatever they are paired with. It is worth noting that the bugs we will be using are organic, farmed insects that are freeze dried at USDA certified facilities for human consumption.”

By Marina Andalon