Categories: Meet the Team! 1 Comment

Culinary Team


DANIELLA DE LA PUENTE is a chef, sommelier, visual artist, photographer, and writer. Born in Mexico City, and residing in Tijuana since 1988, Daniella studied graphic design, and with her grandmother as her greatest inspiration in the kitchen, developed a deep passion for food that inspired her culinary journey. She studied at the Culinary Art School, where she also got her sommelier degree. With her latest projects, La Cocina Secreta, and La Cocina Secreta Sensorial a clandestine kitchen in Tijuana that combines the artistry of experiential art design and haute cuisine in a secret location. This exclusive experience is tailored to the customer’s tastes and wishes, using the freshest local ingredients. In 2012 De la Puente won 1st place in the Rumbos de la Cocina de Baja California at the Baja California Culinary Fest (BCCF). In 2016 she was invited to participate in “El sabor de las mujeres de Baja (BCCF) where she was recognized for her career achievements and named one of Baja California’s top female chefs. In 2018 she received the first place People’s Choice Award in the Sabor Latino at the 25th San Diego Latino Film Festival. She is currently lending her talents as a faculty member of the Iberoamerican University, Tijuana campus, where she teaches gastronomic photography, oenology and designing with gastronomy in architecture. As a visual artist, De la Puente has participated in over 16 solo art shows and over 300 group shows in over 12 cities of Mexico, United States, Argentina, Spain and Italy. Vanguard Culture Events: Avant-Garde Costume Gala 2016, Foodie Intuition 2016Foodie Soiree Spring 2017, Ceviche Chef Showdown 2018, SENSORIUM 2018



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.


OLGA SANCHEZ DE LA VEGA – A highly regarded Customer Experience, Sales, Marketing and Training professional with over 20 years of experience, Olga Sanchez de la Vega has led various training courses, developed talented staff, and maintained high sales volume, with tailored processes and operations. Olga is a respected team leader, managing and supervising teams locally and Internationally with an emphasis on clients in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Olga is the founder of The O Xperience, a bespoke tourism-focused program that creates enhanced culinary and travel experiences.  Olga currently serves as Ambassador for Baja Wine + Food, a company that represents and promotes boutique, family-owned and artisan wineries from Valle de Guadalupe in northern Baja California, where 90% of Mexican wine comes from. Additionally, the agency offers travel and concierge services in the Baja Wine Country, event planning and catering, Baja Vino Club and PR services to Mexican Wineries.



JADE BOYD: A career-long hospitality professional, Jade has dedicated over 20 years to bringing people together through food and beverage. Originally from Virginia, Jade has called San Diego home since 2014. In this time she has worked for some of San Diego’s most esteemed Cocktail Bars and Distilleries including Born & Raised, Juniper & Ivy and Old Harbor Distilling Company, positioning herself as a respected member of the San Diego Craft Cocktail community. As a passionate advocate for the Spirits, Art and Hospitality industries, Jade is an award winning Cocktail Curator, Spirits Specialist and Educator.



MIGUEL GONGORA JR. is a native San Diegan who has lived in various parts of California. Mr. Gongora attended UC Berkeley with a focus on Theatre & Performance Studies and English Literature. He studied acting at the prestigious American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and is currently a member of the Latino-based AMIGOS DEL REP arts council of the San Diego REPertory Theatre. Mr. Gongora is also a part of the Chicano/Latino Youth Leadership Program’s Los Angeles Institute which works to develop and mentor young future leaders. He currently works as a criminal defense investigator and enjoys surfing, classic movies, live jazz, and rescuing animals and plants.



Chef Carlos Anthony – Herb & Wood

Favorite Dish: 

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


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


Chef Francesco Bonsi – Cucina Migrante

Favorite Dish:  

Vanguard Culture Events: Extra-Ordinary Collusion Foodie Mashup 2017


 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 


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 every day. 

Vanguard Culture Events: Foodie Intuition 2016Foodie Soiree Spring 2017 

Chef Jorge Fuentes – Mariscos German Beyer

Favorite Dish:  

Vanguard Culture Events: Ceviche Chef Showdown 2018, SENSORIUM 2018

Chef Jason Fullilove – Barbara Jean LA

Favorite Dish:

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

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

Favorite Dish: My favorite dish is 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 2017Ceviche Chef Showdown 2018


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, SENSORIUM 2018

Chef Mario Medina  – The Main Course; Former Vanguard Culture Culinary Director

Favorite Dish:

Vanguard Culture Events: Avant-Garde Costume Gala 2016Avant-Garde Costume Gala 2017, An Artist @ the Table with Jennifer LuceFoodie Intuition 2016, Foodie Soiree Spring 2017, SENSORIUM 2018

Chef Luis Moreno Gil  – Andares De La Baja Cocina & Jardín De Cerveza Oficial

Favorite Dish:  

Vanguard Culture Events: Ceviche Chef Showdown 2018

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

Chef Dan Nattrass – Fishbone Kitchen

Favorite Dish:  

Vanguard Culture Events: Ceviche Chef Showdown 2018

Chef Karla Navarro – Salicornia

Favorite Dish:  

Vanguard Culture Events: Avant-Garde Costume Gala 2016 & 2017, Ceviche Chef Showdown 2018


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, Avant-Garde Costume Gala 2017, Ceviche Chef Showdown 2018


Chef Aaron Obregon – Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa

Favorite Dish:

Vanguard Culture Events: Ceviche Chef Showdown 2018, An Artist @ the Table with Dame Zandra Rhodes 2018


Chef Michael Poompan – Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa

Favorite Dish: 

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


Chef Juan Carlos Récamier Ceviche House

Favorite Dish:

Vanguard Culture Events:  Ceviche Chef Showdown 2018


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 veloute served with seared foie gras and sea salt.

Vanguard Culture Events: Avant Garde Costume Gala 2015 & 2016 


Chef Dulce Nabil – Sucrée

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 & 2017; SENSORIUM 2018


 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 


 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


Chef Claudia Sandoval – Claudia’s Cocina, Winner of MasterChef Season 6

Favorite Dish:  

Vanguard Culture Events: An Artist @ the Table with Roxana Velasquez 2018

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 


Chef Danilo (DJ) Tangalin Jr. – Bivouac Ciderworks

Favorite Dish:  One of my favorite dishes is called Pinakbet. It’s a vegetable Filipino dish. It is our version of a ratatouille. It has long beans, okra, kabocha squash, eggplant, and bitter melon. Sometimes it is cooked with pork belly and shrimp. It is also finished with fermented shrimp also known as “bagoong.”

Vanguard Culture Events: INSPIRE 2017

Chef Sandra Vazquez Fernandez  – 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, Avant-Garde Costume Gala 2017

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. We believe in making a difference in the world, supporting San Diego’s vibrant visual and performing arts community and bringing awareness to important social and community causes.

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