Chef Jessica Phillips — a New Jersey native — is the chef/founder of A Taco Affair in Little Falls, NJ. She puts a unique, non-traditional twist on tacos by creating tacos inspired by classic flavors and dishes from around the world. The flavor profiles she creates in a tortilla are bold, refreshing, and nicely balanced. The restaurant opened in 2017 and quickly attracted customers due to its unique concept. Its popularity is not showing any signs of slowing down. A Taco Affair has received numerous local accolades. It was voted number 9 in New Jersey for best Mexican food by Yelp and recognized as one of the Best Places for Lunch by the Bergen Record. The restaurant was also featured on ABC News New York’s Neighborhood Eats. Jessica had always dreamed of owning her own restaurant – A Taco Affair is a tribute to everyone that has supported her in pursuing that dream. She hopes that her food will continue to make people smile for years to come.
Shortly after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 2007, she found herself working in one of New Jersey’s top restaurants, Restaurant Serenade, as a line cook under Chef James Laird. While there, she sharpened and developed her culinary skills. She absorbed the passion and dedication that Chef Laird and his staff demonstrated towards every plate and person that came in and out of that their kitchen. This is where she learned first hand that cooking is more than just a job to earn a paycheck. It’s a love for the food, the people you work with, and the smiling faces of your customers. After leaving restaurant Serenade, Jessica moved to Boston for eight years where she took her first sous-chef job with Restaurant Associates. While at the company, she served as a chef for Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and Google.
Missing her family, Jessica moved back to New Jersey and took a sous-chef position at New Jersey’s premier catering hall, The Grove. For five years, she worked side by side with Executive Chef Anthony Garruto to produce fine dining food on a grand scale – executing large parties of 600 people to small functions of 50 people. Here she learned the finer side of catering and was given the opportunity to really showcase her love of global flavors. In 2017, Jessica felt she was at a point where she could pursue opening her own restaurant. Her drive to make her lifetime dream a reality allowed her to see how an old convenience store could become A Taco Affair, and her passion for cooking food for people has made A Taco Affair a success. She is constantly creating new tacos, which only make it on the menu if her official taste-tester, her English Bulldog Diesel, gives it the paws up.