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Culinary Team

CULINARY DIRECTOR:

CHEF MARIO MEDINA – Spending many childhood days in the kitchen with his mother in Mexico City, Mario Medina developed a passion for food that inspired his journey toward becoming an executive chef. After finishing culinary school in his hometown, Mario came to the United States to follow his dream. Working and learning in some of the finest kitchens on the west coast, Mario quickly established a reputation for great food and hospitality. His dream was soon realized when, in less than a year as Sous Chef at Chateau La Jolla Inn, he was offered the position of Executive Chef. Mario next took the helm at Paradise Grille in Del Mar, then Finch’s Bistro and Bernini’s Bistro for five years.  He is now leading the kitchen at The Main Course Restaurant in Ramona. Although still young and early in his career, Mario has been featured in magazines such as “San Diego Home & Garden”, “Dining Out”, “About Town”, “Where”, “Riviera”, “Fine”, “Ranch & Coast” and “Mexico Aquí”, and on many local television news channels. Mario was featured in a cookbook showcasing San Diego’s top chefs – San Diego Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from America’s Finest City – and is a weekly recipe contributor to 860AM Radio Mexico Aquí Magazine. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Chefs de Cuisine Association of San Diego.

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WINE DIRECTOR:

FERNANDO GAXIOLA – Born in Sinaloa and raised along the USA-Mexico border, Fernando Gaxiola earned an engineering degree from the prestigious Tecnológico de Monterrey and a Global MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Phoenix, Arizona. A natural born entrepreneur, Fernando launched his first business management consulting firm in 2003 at the age of 26. Soon after, he became a leading business management consultant for the Oil & Gas industry in which he focused on processes, marketing and strategic planning – an experience which afforded him the opportunity to live in over 14 countries. He later returned to his roots to apply his knowledge toward promoting the Tijuana-San Diego mega region. His passion for food, wine and art led him to found Baja Wine + Food, the leading travel, event, and lifestyle management agency in the San Diego-Northern Baja region. His company specializes in providing extraordinary cross-border experiences to corporate and private clients worldwide. Additionally, he has partnered with Truly Fine Wine to import and distribute a premier portfolio of Baja wines from the most prestigious wineries in Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, México. As part of his ongoing strategy to promote Baja culture in the US, he also partners with acclaimed regional chefs and artists to create a cross-border culinary movement. Read more about his endeavors HERE.

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CHEF CONTRIBUTORS:

Chef Carlos Anthony – Herb & Wood

Favorite Dish: 

 

Vanguard Culture Events: An Artist @ the Table with Roman de Salvo 

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Chef Fermin Baños – Sabores Cocina Artesanal

Favorite Dish: My favorite dish is made up of two dishes: Ribeye pork belly burger with Taleggio cheese in a pretzel bun, with a martini garlic aioli and arugula, with a side of parmesan/cilantro ginger spiral sweet potato and potato fries. And of course… a wild mushroom and Mezcal infused duck risotto.

Vanguard Culture Events: Avant Garde Costume Gala 2016

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Chef Daniella de la Puente – La Cocina Secreta

Favorite Dish: My philosophy when I’m cooking is: cook from your heart and share it. I love that I have a challenge every day when I cook. So I don’t have one personal dish that I love to cook. I love to cook different dishes every day. That’s part of the challenge of La Cocina Secreta.

Vanguard Culture Events: Avant Garde Costume Gala 2016, Foodie Intuition 2016Foodie Soiree Spring 2017 

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 Chef Eduardo Escalante  – Oh Bon Bon! Restaurant

Favorite Dish: My favorite dish (and ingredient) is chocolate and anything related to it. It was my first introduction to the confectionary world but it was my first taste of a coffee vanilla truffle that became the inspiration for my career.  It was such a simple yet classic recipe that included fresh vanilla, Columbian coffee, creme, chocolate, and butter – something technically simple yet unforgettable. 

Vanguard Culture Events: Avant Garde Costume Gala 2016, An Artist @ the Table with Jennifer Luce 

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Danna FloresChef Danna Flores – Flores Tintas Boutique Gastronomica Mexicana

Favorite Dish: I have two favorite dishes and they can both be found in my mother’s kitchen: 1. Lengua en salsa verde (Tongue in tomatillo sauce) with cilantro infused rice; 2. Mole Almendrado (Almond seasoned mole) with Mexican rice; and of course fresh, homemade tortillas. There are no other dishes that make me happier than those my mother makes for me. She is the inspiration for my entire career and the reason I am passionate about the gastronomical diversity that can be discovered everyday. 

Vanguard Culture Events: Foodie Intuition 2016Foodie Soiree Spring 2017 

Chef Jason Fullilove – Barbara Jean LA

Favorite Dish:

Vanguard Culture Events: An Artist @ the Table with Shinpei Takeda 

Chef Manuel Julia – Manuel Julia Catering & Host for “Al Gusto TV”

Favorite Dish: My favorite dish are tacos because they represent comfort food and they take me back to moments from every stage of my life. I don’t believe there is a Mexican person that doesn’t have a good memory accompanied by tacos. It is our culture and even better, there is no finite recipe for tacos, you simply add to them what your soul dictates.

Vanguard Culture Events: Foodie Soiree Spring 2017


Chef Melissa Nakouzi – Allure Restaurant

Favorite Dish: My favorite dish would have to be my grandma’s tamales. Every year for Christmas she would spend 3 days straight making her own spicy beef broth, slow cooking the beef in it, preparing her masa, spreading it on each and every corn husk, generously stuffing each one with beef, green olive, potato, and jalapeño, carefully wrapping each individual tamale, and waking up early Christmas morning to have enough time to steam them all. If that isn’t putting love into food, I don’t know what is!

Vanguard Culture Events: Avant Garde Costume Gala 2016

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Chef Michael Poompan – Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa

Favorite Dish: 

Vanguard Culture Events:  An Artist @ the Table with John Mireles 

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Image: Josue Castro

Chef Felipe Raul Lopez-Torres  – Viñedos Malagón Valle de Guadalupe

Favorite Dish: There are two things that I love to eat and cook. I love to prepare and eat Lechón (roasted pork) and I make it at least once a year. Most of my friends and family know that I adore plantains. I think it’s one of the most versatile fruits and love experimenting and playing with its textures.

Vanguard Culture Events: Foodie Intuition 2016, Foodie Soiree Spring 2017

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Chef Stevan Novoa – NV Personal Dining

Favorite Dish: My favorite dish is Timpano from the Calabrian region of Italy. It is made up of all the things that are wonderful in Italian foods salami, provolone, noodles, meatballs, eggs, and put together like a pie.

Vanguard Culture Events:  Avant Garde Costume Gala 2016, Weather on Steroids 2017

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Image: Josue Castro

Chef Ryan Steyn – The Cook Book

Favorite Dish: It’s hard to describe my favorite dish because there are so many to choose from. However one does come to mind from a recent trip to Barcelona where I tasted cooked artichoke hearts in a rich buttery velute served with seared foie gras and sea salt.

Vanguard Culture Events: Avant Garde Costume Gala 2015 & 2016 

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Image: Josue Castro

Chef Dulce Romo – Butter Bakery

Favorite Dish: My favorite dessert is one people order from me the most, CHEESECAKE! The smell of the whole room when you are baking cheesecake is indescribable. The creamy texture of Philadelphia’s cream cheese combined with the sweetness of the graham cracker can make anyone happy. A traditional cheesecake is what I live for.

Vanguard Culture Events: Avant Garde Costume Gala 2015 & 2016 

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 Chef Javier Rubio – Mission Bay Yacht Club

Favorite Dish: My favorite dish is Chilean Sea Bass infused with lemongrass and ginger, served with dragonfruit compote and citrus zest.

Vanguard Culture Events: Avant Garde Costume Gala  2016, Foodie Soiree Spring 2017 

 

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 Chef Jordana Salas – Oh Bon Bon! Restaurant

Favorite Dish: My favorite food or ingredient is cheese. I am fascinated by the variety of flavors and textures that can be found in them. I also highly respect Indian and Lebanese food. The spices and aromas they produce can be intoxicating.

Vanguard Culture Events: Avant Garde Costume Gala 2016, Foodie Intuition 2016 

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Chef Martin San Roman – La Terrasse San Roman

Favorite Dish: My favorite dessert is the Famous Pastel de Crepas Tijuana! Layers of soft crepes & Belgian White Chocolate Mousse. You can find it at La Terrasse San Roman / Guadalupe Valley!

Vanguard Culture Events: Avant Garde Costume Gala 2016 

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Chef Sandra Vazquez  – La Mestiza Restaurante

Favorite Dish: One dish that I’ve loved since I was a child was a classic dish from the Mexican state of Michoacán (where I am from). It is a “Chile Relleno de Uchepo.” This is a Poblano pepper stuffed with uchepo (like a corn tamale but less sweet), Cotija cheese, Chihuahua cheese and crema de rancho

Vanguard Culture Events: Avant Garde Costume Gala 2016, Foodie Intuition 2016 

Vanguard Culture

Vanguard Culture is an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals.

We provide original interviews and reviews of the people, places, and events that make up San Diego’s thriving arts and culture community, as well as curated snapshots of the week’s best, most inspiring and unique cultural and culinary events.

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  1. […] Chef Francesco Bonsinetto Chef Eduardo Escalante Chef Danna Flores Chef Mario Medina Chef Stevan Novoa […]

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