Baja Culinary Festival at Rancho La Puerta - Rancho La Puerta
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Baja Culinary Festival at Rancho La Puerta

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Rancho La Puerta’s organic farm hosted a special night as part of the 2016 Baja Culinary Festival. Fifteen women chefs and over 200 guests gathered to feast as part of the Baja Culinary Festival’s El Sabor de Mujeres de Baja.  With wines from the Valle de Guadalupe, craft beers of Baja California, local ingredients and live music set against the beautiful backdrop of the farm, the festival was an inviting celebration of the culinary talent of female chefs from close and far who have either been influenced  by the Baja culinary scene or are from here.

“I’m proud to have my roots here,” says Chef Meylin Chavez of Olympia Oyster Bar in Portland. “To have this many female chefs and owners in one place is empowering.  Recognizing the contributions of female chefs in Baja is really important. It’s a source of inspiration. I’m originally from Tijuana and apprenticed here at The Ranch with Chef Denise.  The Ranch left a strong imprint on my career.”

Guest Linda Kent from San Diego takes a moment to comment, “This is not at all what I expected. It’s better and more fun. The food is delicious and I haven’t even been to the dessert table yet! The food, the music, the environment; it’s all great.”

At the base of Mt. Kuchumaa with the sun setting, Chef Flor Franco of Indulge Catering adds, “This is the beginning of a revolution in Baja and San Diego for female chefs. Every time I go to events I’m surrounded by male chefs. I ask them, “Close your eyes. Now tell me the first food you remember and who cooked it?”  It’s always a grandma or aunt or mom! So where are those females? They’re here. We need to talk about this. We’re talking about real food. Women aren’t just feeding you, they’re nurturing you. That’s the reason the food is different.  It’s not just protein and carbs it’s everything. We’re serving a life plate every time.”

Chef Flor’s Risotto de Elote Organico y Calabaza was a highlight for guest Deb Sandler of San Diego. “The texture and flavor is amazing and she is delightful.  It’s fun to see what these women have created successfully by doing what they love.”

Many of the Chefs at El Sabor de Mujeres will be featured in Sergio Munoz’s upcoming book “MXCNAS” to be released in early 2017.  Highlighting the evening he says, “There are two places that are crucial for Baja. The Culinary Art School in Tijuana and Rancho La Puerta. They provide the talent, leadership, and philosophy to the Baja culinary ecosystem.”

“The night’s a big party,” says Rancho La Puerta’s Executive Chef Denise Roa. “I got to invite my friends and share the environment. It’s where I want to mentor young women into chefs.  There’s enough success to share in the world and the work. I continue to learn every day. Instead of striving for perfection we should be striving for balance. We’ve all benefited from the chefs who came before us. We should be thankful. We all came together and made a great culinary night.”