Baja is currently going through a food renaissance led by Ensenda. Young and old chefs alike have realized that they can have their own identity rather than copying french or italian cuisine. Referred to as “Cachanilla” by their mainland Mexican cousins, Baja has its own sense of independence, even in its food culture. “Cachanilla” is a type of flowering bush that grows in harsh rocky desert areas usually near cactus. To the people of Baja, the flowers represent hope and strength in the face of adversity, a symbol of their relationship with mainland Mexico and the rest of the world.
Abundant with natural resources, Baja is unique geographic region providing a prosperous coastline for seafood, rich mountains perfect for growing grapes for wine and a variety of produce, and flat prairies perfect for raising free range livestock. The year round temperate weather means there is not an off-season for fantastic local food experiences.
Just slightly north of downtown Ensenada, Guadalupe Valley is exploding with wine and food culture. Accelerated by the growth of the local wineries bringing in tourism, Guadalupe Valley has some of the most exciting restaurants serving locally sourced food.
Drew Deckman (http://deckmans.com)
After growing up in Peachtree City, Georgia, and completing a degree in Philosophy from Rhodes College, Chef Drew Deckman embarked on a culinary journey that landed him in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula in 2007.
Prior to his arrival in Mexico, Deckman spent a decade in Europe, spanning countries such as France, Switzerland, and Germany, and cooking with greats such as Paul Bocuse, Jacques Maximin, Gilles DuPont, and Tommy Byrne. It was in Germany that Deckman was awarded a coveted Michelin star for his work in Restaurant Vitus in Reinstorf, as well as 2003’s Rising-Star Chef during his tenure as Executive Chef at the Four Seasons Berlin. Part of the final class of the School for American Chefs at Beringer Vineyards in Napa Valley, Deckman went on to work in Hawaii, Riviera Maya, Lyon, Geneva, Provence, Rome, Shanghai, even serving as a private chef to a Hollywood actor, but found a permanent home in Baja, where he enjoys blue-water sport fishing, scuba diving and golf.
Dedicated to local, sustainable ingredients, Deckman is Los Cabos’ Convivium Leader and Regional Governor for Slow Food International. He is Brand Ambassador for SmartFish, a Baja-based sustainable fisheries social enterprise, and has previously served as culinary consultant for Casa de Piedra Winery, Paralelo Winery, Estacion por Venir Winery and La Contra Vinos.
Deckman’s first restaurant, Deckman’s San Jose, opened in November 2010 in Los Cabos, while 2012 saw the opening of his second restaurant Deckman’s en el Mogor. A seasonal, al fresco organic restaurant situated in the Mogor Badan Winery in the Guadalupe Valley, the restaurant and chef have garnered much coverage in such prestigious publications as The New York Times’ T Magazine, New York Magazine, Fodor’s, New World Review, The Latin Kitchen, and Baja Traveler. Deckman’s latest and most ambitious project to date, Common Table, is scheduled to open in March 2014 in Cabo San Lucas. This new venture will feature a contextual kitchen concentrating on local sourcing and craft products.
Roberto Alcocer (http://malvarestaurant.com)
Roberto Alcocer is a among the elite young outstanding Baja Mexican cooks. He is owner Malva restaurant in San Antonio de las Minas in Ensenada. Malva raises sheep, goats, and poultry on its own farm and uses ingredients grown in its garden and orchard that give their food an authentic Baja taste.
Malva dishes rotate almost weekly because its capricious climate and radical evolution in their garden. Alcocer takes great notice in the behavior of his plants in the garden and orchard.
Alcocer has been able to conceptualize modern Baja cuisine in a permanent, evolutionary and proactive dynamic process and support his work in the kitchen both traditionally and radically.