EXPLORING ASIA’S INFLUENCE ON THE GASTRONOMY OF BAJA CALIFORNIA WITH CHEF JAVIER PLASCENCIA & CHEF ROBERT RUIZ
Baja California’s culinary movement is uniquely influenced by Asian cooking. Baja Chefs commonly use ingredients and cooking techniques that borrow from Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cooking. The result is a “fusion” of Mexican and Asian gastronomy only found in the Cali-Baja region. This special coursed collaboration dinner will feature two of the world’s top chefs presenting a coordinated take on Cali-Baja cuisine, and will explore the history and unique fusion of Asian and Mexican cooking!
6:30-7:30pm - Welcome Reception Cocktail Hour with Passed Appetizers
7:30-10:00pm - Seated Multi-Course Dinner Service
10:00pm-Close - After Party with No-Host Bar at The Captain Charles Kenneth Speakeasy, downstairs from The Land & Water Company
TRACING ASIA’S INFLUENCE ON CALI-BAJA CUISINE
Integral to the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in the late 1800s, thousands of Chinese immigrants who had served as railway laborers, settled in the border town of Mexicali, Baja California. So many so, that by the turn of the Century, the official Mexican census recorded more Chinese than Mexicans living in Mexicali! A vibrant “Chinatown” flourished in Mexicali, and as more Chinese arrived, they spread throughout the region opening many restaurants. Baja Chefs fondly remember going out for “comida China” (Chinese food) to celebrate special occasions like birthdays.
In the mid 1940s, following World War II and amidst war-related tensions that lingered between Japan and the United States, Japanese fishing fleets that had previously fished all along the western coast of the the U.S., were forced south to fish the waters off Baja California’s Pacific coast. Setting up fish camps where canning operations took place, Japanese fishermen were regular customers at bars and saloons, but conspicuously avoided eating Mexico’s favorite street food, the taco. That is until one curious and enterprising Mexican street food vendor in Ensenada got himself invited to dinner at a Japanese fish camp and witnessed the Japanese fishermen cooking and eating fish tempura. He took good note of the technique and ingredients used, then went home and practiced his own version before finally presenting the “taco de pescado” (fish taco), which quickly became a favorite amongst Japanese and Mexicans alike.
By the 1950s, to avoid Mexican-imposed taxes and tariffs, many Japanese fishing fleets moved their canning operations off-shore to floating canneries based in international waters. In port towns like Ensenada, this left land-based canneries abandoned. Enterprising Koreans, many of whom were fleeing civil war in their homeland, saw opportunity in these abandoned factories, and quickly moved in to reopen canning operations that would export fish back to the Korean market. With their arrival, the Koreans brought their own culinary influence to Baja California, which today can be seen on many Cali-Baja menus in the form of fermented foods like Kimchi.
ABOUT CHEF JAVIER PLASCENCIA
With a 30 year culinary career in Baja California and San Diego, and a multitude of restaurants and hospitality concepts, Chef Javier Plascencia has become the international ambassador for the unique northern Baja cuisine and lifestyle focused on local products, from wine and beer to meat and produce, from organic farms, and its bounty of seafood.
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.
ABOUT CHEF ROBERT RUIZ
For the last several years Chef Robert Ruiz has been at the forefront of sustainable seafood. Chef Ruiz’s inventiveness, mindful determination, and meticulous care have earned him recognition as one of the nation’s progressive culinary minds. Chef Ruiz has humble roots in San Diego, California, and a decade on the Big Island of Hawaii. He trained at the Five-Diamond Hualalai Resort under Chef Alan Wong. In 2010 he earned the title of “Chef of the Fest” at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival. Ruiz’s passion then led him to Japan where his study of fish and food culture coincided with the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. In 2012 and 2013 Ruiz served as the Executive Chef for the Party in the Valley at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Ruiz also began working extensively with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He 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, and as a San Diego Magazine Critics choice. 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 has worked with Slowfood USA and attended Terra Madre, Salon de Gusto, Turin, Italy. In 2016 Chef Ruiz was recognized as “Chef of the Year” by the San Diego Union Tribune. Chef Ruiz received global recognition for his dedication to improving seafood industry practices at the 2016 Ocean Awards in London, presented by the Blue Marine Foundation. Chef Ruiz orchestrated and executed the Lionfish event in Bermuda, kicking off of the Americas Cup in 2017. In October 2017 Ruiz was featured at the StarChefs annual Chefs Congress in Brooklyn, NYC. In 2018 The Land & Water Company was featured in Alice Waters book, “Truth, Love, and Clean Cutlery”. In 2019 Ruiz was certified as a Leader for the James Beard Foundation’s SmartCatch Program. Chef Ruiz is currently working on his next project, Hold Fast, a farm to table/fisherman to table fast casual eatery to be located inside San Diego’s Liberty Station Public Market.
PRICE & BOOKING INFO
$165 per person - purchase now below. Space is limited to just 65 people for this intimate culinary event and it is expected to sell out. Price is per person, in U.S. dollars. Book early to confirm your participation - our events are reserved and confirmed on a first-paid basis and often sell-out well in advance. When booking conflicts occur, priority is given to the customer who pays first. This culinary event is not advised for strict vegetarians or vegans. Edible Baja events are 100% non-smoking/non-vaping. Must be 18+ years old to participate - minors will not be allowed to participate.
Your ticket purchase includes a coursed gourmet collaboration tasting menu prepared by Chef Javier Plascencia and Chef Robert Ruiz. There will be a welcome cocktail reception with passed appetizers before dinner, and one (1) signature craft cocktail is included with your ticket purchase. Service gratuity is included; additional beverages may be purchased for an additional cost. We cannot make accommodations for special dietary requirements for this event - diners should expect to eat fish, shellfish, and meat.
TAKE NOTE BEFORE PURCHASING
Every Edible Baja participant must be at least 18 years old and 21+ years old to consume alcohol. Along with your printed event ticket (with QR Code), you must present a valid government-issued photo ID to enter the event. Once paid, there are no refunds for this event. Failure to arrive at the event location on time will constitute your cancellation without refund, credit, or rescheduling allowance. We cannot make accommodations for special dietary requirements for this event - diners should expect to eat fish, shellfish, and meat.
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