El Jardin | San Diego, CA
James Beard Best Chef: West semifinalist Claudette Zepeda is executive chef & partner of El Jardín, a regional Mexican restaurant in San Diego. Inspired by the regional cuisine in Mexico, where her passion for food was first cultivated, El Jardín is an expression of Zepeda’s culinary journey as a chef as well as her upbringing as a border kid raised between Tijuana and her birth town, San Diego. Prior to El Jardín, Zepeda was chef de cuisine at Javier Plascencia’s celebrated Bracero and also spent time alongside chef Gavin Kaysen at his former San Diego restaurant, El Bizcocho. A member of Buzzfeed’s inaugural Tasty talent program and former Top Chef Season 15 + Top Chef Mexico competitor, Zepeda continues to find inspiration from her frequent visits to Mexico. Since opening, El Jardín has received local and national critical acclaim, including a glowing review from the New York Times and inclusion on Esquire’s 2018 Best New Restaurant; while Claudette was named both Eater San Diego and San Diego Union Tribune’s Chef of the Year in 2018.