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Claudette Zepeda is a San Diego-based chef most recently known for her time as Executive Chef & Partner of El Jardín, a regional Mexican restaurant in San Diego. During her tenure, El Jardín received a glowing review from the New York Times, inclusion on Esquire’s 2018 Best New Restaurants, 2 times Chef of the Year from Eater San Diego and the San Diego Union Tribune, recognition from Michelin on their 2019 Bib Gourmand list, and Claudette earning the recognition of becoming a 2018 James Beard Best Chef West semifinalist. She founded the restaurant as Consulting Chef with Rise and Shine Restaurant Group. Claudette is also Founder of Viva La Vida, LLC., which has established micro businesses throughout Mexico’s seven regions with single mothers to import their heirloom ingredients that have never been brought to the US, all while helping the women in Mexico move their family ahead without having them sacrifice their safety. Earning its name from a famous Frida Kahlo quote, the company celebrates the colorful life and death Mexicans lead, with plans to shed light on mental health and balance in the hospitality industry in collaboration with UK-based Pilot Light to help start conversations that make people uncomfortable but can potentially save a life. Prior to this, she was Chef de Cuisine at Javier Plascencia’s celebrated Bracero, where she joined as Butcher and Kitchen Lead. During her tenure at the restaurant, Bracero was acknowledged as a 2016 James Beard Best New Restaurant semifinalist and was among Eater’s Best New Restaurants in America. Claudette was a member of Buzzfeed's inaugural Tasty talent program and former Top Chef Season 15 and Top Chef Mexico competitor. She is a member of the 2020 Class of Henry Crown Fellows within the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute.