Born in Tijuana, and brought up in a hardworking family, Chef Javier Plascencia is a person with a natural curiosity for taste. This has led him to take an adventurous journey, first into Baja, and then to the rest of the world to find unique ingredients. After studying in San Diego, Chef Javier opened his first restaurant in Tijuana in 1989, and today he is one of the most prolific entrepreneurs of the region, with several culinary establishments, all with innovative concepts. Known as an ambassador of Baja California’s gastronomic movement, Chef Javier proudly represents Baja California internationally and speaks highly of the region wherever his travels take him. He is a fervent promoter of sourcing locally, from regional boutique wines and craft beers to grass-fed meats from organic farms and sustainably caught seafood. Chef Javier’s hospitality collective can be found in Tijuana, Valle de Guadalupe, San Jose del Cabo, and Todos Santos with plans for San Diego and additional US-based concepts in progress.
For the last several years Chef Robert Ruiz has been at the forefront of sustainable seafood with his inventiveness, mindful determination, and meticulous care earning him recognition as one of the nation’s progressive culinary minds. Chef Ruiz has roots in San Diego, but trained on the Big Island of Hawaii for a decade and also spent time studying fish and food culture in Japan. Ruiz has worked extensively with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and introduced edible QR code technology that linked his food to NOAA’s FishWatch website. In 2014 Ruiz opened his signature restaurant, The Land & Water Company in Carlsbad, CA, recognized in the city’s top 10 restaurants, and as a San Diego Magazine Critics’ choice. In 2016 Chef Ruiz was recognized as “Chef of the Year” by the San Diego Union Tribune. Chef Ruiz began his love affair with Baja California’s Valle de Guadalupe in 2015 when he was invited as a Guest Chef to cook at Deckman’s En El Mogor, by Michelin-Starred Chef Drew Deckman. Chef Ruiz is currently working on his next project, Hold Fast, a farm to table/fisherman to table fast casual eatery located inside San Diego’s Liberty Public Market.
Executive Chef Denise Roa’s cuisine celebrates taste, vibrant colors, and the aliveness of the freshest seasonal ingredients possible. Her farm-to-table meals, usually inspired by a morning walk through the 6-acre organic farm just outside her door, are carefully prepared aesthetic triumphs—simultaneously rustic yet complex in their flavors, as well as being eminently healthy and satisfying for the body, mind, and spirit. Chef Denise’s culinary career includes studying Culinary Arts at the world-renowned Johnson & Wales University in Miami, and holding positions at some of San Diego’s best known and respected restaurants, including Pacifica Del Mar, Crescent Shores Grille, Del Mar Racetrack Turf Club, and her own restaurant, La Trattoria. Her recipes have been featured in People Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, San Diego TV stations, and other media outlets. Additionally, Chef Denise is an instructor at the Culinary Art School of Tijuana, Mexico.
Kristin Magnussen Shute is the award-winning winemaker for Valle de Guadalupe winery Vinos Lechuza. Started by her father Ray Magnussen as a hobby in 2010, Lechuza has grown into one of the most popular wineries in the region because of their dedication to the craft and the merging of old world and new world styles. Lechuza is known for their sophisticated but approachable wines that have won over sommeliers and chefs around the world and have landed them accolades that include a coveted place on the wine list at The French Laundry in Napa, California (3 Michelin Stars). Kristin is proud of her family’s commitment to working “without borders” as ambassadors to Mexico’s modern wine movement around the world.