Javier Plascencia

Executive Chef-Owner, Multiple Restaurants in San Diego and Baja
“I had the pleasure to spend some time with both my grandmother and great-grandmother when I was around 13 years old. One of the fondest memories I have is when I visited my great-grandma in Oxnard, California. We would take a day trip on Sundays to visit her sometimes, driving up from Tijuana, Mexico. She was married to a bracero (Manuel who worked in the fields around Oxnard for many years). I still can feel his enormous hands that were really beaten up and tough from all those years working in the fields. He took a lot of pride in those hands. I have a perfect memory of my great-grandma’s smile as she greeted us with such joy. It was the first time I had seen one of my family members grow her own tomatoes, chiles, and cilantro in her tiny back yard. She also had some chickens, so we would feast on her breakfast of super fresh eggs with an amazing ranchero salsa made of fresh tomatoes and serrano chiles that she picked from her garden. The taste of freshly made salsa with those eggs and hand-made flour tortillas was something very special to us. I’ve never experienced food that tasted so good in my life. I can still smell her living room full of spices and tomato aromas. I loved them so dearly—these women definitely inspired me to cook with a lot of love for my family and customers. They also made me realize that growing fresh food in a garden that that has been given a lot of love can teach us a lot and make us better cooks and better human beings. So here’s to perfect huevos rancheros and to braceros all around California that work so hard for us to enjoy good, healthy produce.”
“As a young child, my grandmother had a garden in our backyard and while she was cooking, she would ask me to go pick jalapenos, tomatoes, and squash. That garden made a big impression on me and my life. I believe that is where my passion for food and fellowship developed. On Sundays our family would gather at my grandparents’ home to eat and laugh. I believe that no matter what happens in life there is no better feeling than gathering around the dinner table with your family and friends.”