Claudette ZepedaClaudette Zepeda
Claudette Zepeda is an award-winning, San Diego-based chef and culinary entrepreneur known for her fearless style and bold approach to regional Mexican cuisine. A celebrated culinary anthropologist, Zepeda draws upon 20+ years of experience working in restaurant kitchens, as well as her extensive travels around the world and throughout Mexico that inform her extensive knowledge of indigenous ingredients and cross-cultural expressions of cuisine.Zepeda garnered national acclaim for her time as the executive chef & partner behind El Jardín, a regional Mexican restaurant in the area. During her tenure, El Jardín received a glowing review from the New York Times, inclusion on Esquire’s 2018 Best New Restaurants, and recognition from Michelin on their 2019 Bib Gourmand list. Zepeda was named both Eater San Diego and San Diego Union Tribune’s Chef of the Year in 2018, and was a James Beard Best Chef West semifinalist in 2019. Prior to El Jardín, Zepeda was chef de cuisine at Javier Plascencia’s celebrated Bracero. She has competed on Top Chef Season 15 and Top Chef Mexico, as well as Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend, where she successfully won her challenge.
In 2019 Zepeda Founded Viva La Vida, LLC., establishing micro businesses with single mothers throughout Mexico’s seven regions to import their heirloom ingredients previously unavailable in the U.S. With plans to grow into a 501c3 fund dedicated to helping Hispanic women break from generational poverty in the United States.