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Taylored: A conversation with Taylor Mason

There’s nothing like the taste of a taco; but when it comes to a Taylor’s taco — you get the works, authenticity with a touch of soul. For the past six years, Taylor Mason and her partner Maya Mason, have not only broken barriers but created opportunities as well. They’ve made history.

We celebrate and recognize Mason this month as she moves forward in her ventures and explores outside of cooking. Now open in the Heart of Italy, just on the southwest side of Chicago, Mason introduces us to Taylored, a curated event space located at 2451 S. Oakley Ave.

Taylored hosted a soft opening on February 6, 2022, and officially opened their doors for their grand opening on March 1.

Tell us a little bit about what Taylored is for and What is your vision for it in the future?

Yeah, So, first let me tell you how Taylored came about. So as I said before, we have Taylor’s Tacos Chicago, we’re a pop-up catering company that specializes in authentic street-style tacos with soul. So we’re all about popping up and creating and bringing the vibe with us, creating an experience on-site. I went to school in LA, and that’s where I fell in love with tacos but especially the street vendor tacos, because I just love that irrealist style of cooking and just people coming up to you and just having that interaction and freshness right in your face. So I came to Chicago and I’m like I need to do that, like I can do that and that’s exactly what I did. We were trying to start and open a restaurant once we garnered some success and 2020 happened. We’re like what the heck? All these doors kept slamming in our face and it was terrible. We were like ok, what are we gonna do? So it just fell on our laps. Why are we going away from what we were doing before? Which is creating intentional spaces, with good ass food. That’s what we decided to do and we found this space and everything worked out the way it’s supposed to and here we are.

Tell us about Taylor’s Tacos and how taking on the success of that has been for you.

Taylor’s Tacos is my baby, I love Taylor’s Tacos. Like I was giving you a little insight into the story, I went to school in LA and my major was broadcast, I was trying to be like Oprah, Ellen and the PA. I was trying to do it all. I was trying to do behind the scenes and in front of the camera, I was trying to do it all. I had a job lined up, I was ready to go after graduation and just before I graduated my mother had back-to-back brain aneurysms and my family asked me to come back home and help with the family business while my mom got better. After graduation, I had one more class to finish and that was the toughest month ever. It wasn’t really tough, it was tough in the sense of coming to the self-actualization that I was going to have to leave my dream. I was like man, but I gotta do it, I don’t have a choice. So I came back and once I got back I’m like okay, I can’t do this for the rest of my life. I’m here to help my mother get phenomenally better and I was like what am I going to do? How can I fulfill my life here and that’s how Taylor’s Tacos started. I always loved cooking, I just love how food brought people together. I was like if I can make something good..I would always go to this taco guy in Wicker Park and his hours sucked, because he was so inconsistent and one night after the third time we went there, he wasn’t there. I was like you know what, I can make these at home, I can make them myself, I can make them on the street just like he can. Let’ s do this. I can make tacos whenever I want and that’s how it started…

We started the Vibe Collective, the very first event, kind of like this, that we did and I sold the tacos for $1. We had a line around the block and I was like okay, that’s all the reassurance I needed, let’s do this. That was essentially 2014, was when the first Taylor’s taco was ever made. If you saw one in 2014 and one today, you would be like what is that? If it was a matching game, you wouldn’t win. They used to come on a huge tortilla, it was too much. They evolved into slider, like street tacos, but the slider vision. You see we have funky ..because we were pairing it with soul food, you can get steak and potatoes so we were like let’s do a steak taco and a potato taco. Let’s make it so you can get it all. We do broccoli, we do salmon. We try to create full meals with just the vessel of a taco.

Name a monumental event that you were apart of and how did that go for you.

I’ll tell you about one that’s about to happen, we just did a really important tasting. Our goal this year was to do larger activations. We give our tacos to the people but like the world needs to know, so how are we going to be able to get to that? Do bigger and better things. So that’s exactly what we’re doing. I don’t know if I can say this, but there’s a big company that we’re partnering with to give out complimentary tacos while they promote this big thing everyone has heard of. It’s super cool. It’s going to be a large-scale, 25- city-like situation. So we’re really, really excited about this and this is exactly what we wanted to do and to still be ourselves and be able to do it, is the coolest part. When we had the meeting, they were like you guys are such a vibe and we’re like, we’re just us. We know who we are, we’re not what you would expect when you get tacos, but that’s what’s fun about it.

Would you say that you are apart of Black history?

I’m a part of creating these intentional spaces that are necessary. What we’re super excited about is with this space we are launching our nonprofit called Tacos Create Community, and that’s all about bringing people together intentionally through food. But also, being able to create these experiences and show our gourmet-style street tacos to communities and spaces that don’t get this type of food. That’s super important to us. I was born and raised on the west side, I understand how much a food desert is..they’re just now kind of, maybe, a little bit trying to change it and I want to be apart of that change in a big way.

Where can we find you on social media?

Please follow us. We’re @taylorstacoschicago – it’s kind of the nucleus of it all so we’re able to do Taylored Chicago. We’re also launching Salivate Chicago, which is sexy food in a secret place so we’re going to be doing some underground, fun stuff. We always say I’m the taco lady but Maya is really the brains behind the operation. She’s the ghost cook; she understands flavors , food, how food is grown, the science behind. That’s what I admire about her and I’ve learned so much from her. To be great and be who we are.

It’s just the beginning!

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