A Premier Culinary Event in Silicon Valley

Manuel Martínez, LV Mar & La Viga | Redwood City, California

 

After over two decades, Chef Manuel’s methodology – adhering to his belief that, like the Seasons, tastes and styles change – is continually evolving, patently expressed in the creation of new and surprising flavor combinations that surprise the palates and satiate the appetites of the modern-day diner at one of his two current restaurant concepts in Redwood City, California.

 

La Viga Seafood & Cocina Mexicana is a casual, bistro-style concept with an unassuming aesthetic contrasted by beautifully vibrant ceviches, tacos, and entrees with bold flavors reminiscent of homemade comfort food.

 

LV Mar builds off this casual concept with refined technique and execution of a wide variety of creative tapas and cocktails in a casual & modern space.

 

To round out his guests' experience, detailed care is put into the creation of a unified and supportive culture throughout the La Viga Culinary Group (parent company of La Viga and LV Mar), promoting the growth and happiness of all staff members who work together to identify effective ways to create a delightful and sociable experience in which all guests can take a brief moment to stop and immerse themselves in the moment to enjoy delicious food in great company.

 

Outside the kitchen, Chef Martinez enjoys spending time with his wife, Mayra, and their three children, dining out, and supporting local charities and associations.

Amelia González, Casa de Chocolates | Berkeley, California

 

Casa de Chocolates is a pioneer in creating artisanal and unique chocolates inspired by a passion for Latin American culture and flavors.  Our mission is to introduce our customers to the fascinating and complex history of chocolate – originating from the people of Mesoamerica who started their love affair with cacao as far back as 1200 B.C.

 

The company started in 2012, opening a retail location in Berkeley, CA – a chocolate shop that is contemporary and infused with Latin American culture and sensibilities.  Casa de Chocolates has been recognized as “a top sweet spot” by Travel & Leisure Magazine and has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle and Latina Magazine.

 

We use premium chocolate and natural ingredients and we are committed to sustainability. This is why we purchase our premium chocolate from Bay Area- based chocolate providers known for their quality and sustainability practices. We purchase single source from countries throughout Latin America, including Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru. We also use local organic products whenever possible for our in-store Latin American desserts.

 

We welcome you to visit us in Berkeley or order our exquisite chocolate products online. We are located in Berkeley’s Elmwood District at 2629 Ashby Ave. at College Avenue.

 

Amelia González, owner of Casa de Chocolates started her love affair for cacao when she was a young child — beginning with her first hot mug of Mexican hot chocolate and pan dulce. Amelia has traveled extensively throughout Latin America, including Peru, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Nicaragua and, of course, Mexico. She is passionate about the culture, the arts and the diverse foods of Latin America. Amelia has a background in public media, with over 20 years at KPFA Radio in Berkeley. Originally from Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, born to immigrants from Puebla, Mexico, Amelia studied Latin American Studies at Rio Hondo and Whittier College. She has lived in the Bay Area for many years, and has also lived in Lima, Peru and Oaxaca, Mexico where she worked with Corazon Del Pueblo, a folk-art boutique, where she learned of the rich legacy of Oaxacan and Mexican folk art. It was in the land of the moles where Amelia was reminded of her love for chocolate and rich chocolate-based foods.

Jo Lerma-López, Luna Mexican Kitchen | San Jose, California

 

Jo Lerma-López has always had a passion for innovating, in order to generate change. In the 1990’s Jo’s creativity manifested itself in downtown San Jose’s Upstairs Records, which at the time was the only independent record label in the country to have songs reach the Top 10 portion of the Billboard chart multiple times. Jo was a trailblazer in the music industry, at the forefront of bringing independent artists to the mainstream marketplace. For her entire career, she worked to fill a void in radio across the U.S., convincing radio programmers that Latinos could share the playlist with the pop icons of the time.

 

After over 2 decades of success in the music industry, Jo began to plant the seeds in order to transition to another growing obsession - holistic healing and nutrition. She enrolled in a culinary program and studied to be a natural chef. While diving into the research of the nutritional properties of food, she came to the realization that food can either heal you or hurt you. Many people are suffering from diseases directly connected to their foods sources. The more knowledge she learned, the more she wanted to make a difference in the community around her.

 

LUNA Mexican Kitchen opened in the summer of 2017. An acronym for Local, Unrefined, Natural and Authentic, LUNA sources their ingredients locally, from companies with sustainable practices. Their menu revolves around the Mexican trinity tradition of corn, chili and beans. LUNA uses organic, non-GMO corn, and one of their signature practices is the ancient process of nixtamalization for all of their corn products, including their chips and their daily, hand-pressed tortillas.

 

LUNA is both traditional and modern. The menu includes classic dishes like enchiladas placeras and cochinita pibil, and inventive items like their Parrillada, served on a handcrafted tabletop parrilla constructed by a local artisan. Regardless of what you order, the purpose is the same, to serve clean seasonal ingredients that nourish the body and spirit.

Julio Juárez, Luna Mexican Kitchen | San Jose, California

 

Julio Juárez grew up in Morelia, Michoacán, where food was a big part of his life from a very early age. Some of his fondest memories are of his grandmother, sharing her recipes with him and his brothers, teaching them how to start the firewood to make tortillas and prepare chilies to make mole. His mother showed him how to correctly pick fruits and vegetables for their meals, and his aunt would teach them to mix masa for tamales. This love for quality ingredients set him up for his first job, selling lemons with his brothers. They would pick lemons from their yard, and sell them at the mercado.

 

Coming to the U.S. for a better life, his first job in the states was that of a dishwasher. Through a strong drive and work ethic, he slowly mastered the many roles of the food industry and eventually became the sous chef at the Village Bistro, in the prestigious Santana Row. After several years perfecting his craft, he was noticed by Jo Lerma Lopez who was looking for a chef for her new restaurant, LUNA Mexican Kitchen. Julio’s dedication for cooking shined through. Open only a few months, LUNA has become a standout restaurant recognized for its clean ingredients and authentic Mexican flavors. His favorite thing about his new role is smelling the delicious aromas, from the carnitas to the handmade tortillas - it brings him back to his childhood, cooking with his grandmother. Look for Julio’s warm smile and famous chocoflan.

Anna Zamora-Pizzo, Zona Rosa | San Jose & Los Gatos

 

Enter into a space reminiscent of the Old World with modern vintage touches. A sensory world created by Anna Zamora-Pizzo, Culinary Director, Executive Chef, and Owner of Zona Rosa.

 

Zona Rosa serves upscale farm-to-table Mexican Cuisine. Our first location opened in the San Jose Rose Garden in July 2012. Zona Rosa brings a new healthy style of Mexican cuisine to the bay area that neighborhood communities will appreciate and welcome. Our menu is rooted in the traditions of Mexican cuisine and we combine flavors and ingredients in innovative ways that reflect modern Mexico.  We specialize in seasonal dishes ensuring that our food is always fresh and new. Our recipes evolve with our customers and push the boundaries of taste, texture and flavors. All our food is made from scratch. For example, we feature a hand pressed organic blue and yellow corn tortilla. We use fresh locally sourced ingredients in our food and beverages. Many of our recipes are inspired by our respective families and date back several generations steeped in both Mexican and Italian Heritage.

 

Experience and take delight at the original Zona Rosa in San Jose or Zona Rosa Numero 2 in Los Gatos.

Gloria Domínguez, Tamarindo | Oakland, California

 

Gloria Domínguez, a native from Mixtlan in the state of Jalisco, opened Tamarindo Antojeria Mexicana in 2005 with her son Alfonso Domínguez. Gloria happily introduces an old concept into a new experience of eating Mexican food:  small cravings (Antojitos). “I had a simple goal - no fusion, just traditional Mexican cuisine that one can find throughout Mexico.”  Another important goal was to bring the social aspect back into dining. She was surprised to find the Mexican dining experience differed here in the U.S., with individual plates rather than sharing small bites as she would in Mexico.

 

Domínguez’s culinary expertise stems from her numerous research trips throughout the different regions in Mexico, and her collection of the Mexican kitchen. The most prominent influence for her was her grandmother. She remembers watching her grandmother cook as a child and making tortillas with her. The love and eagerness to master traditions from her heritage is what continues to motivate her to create dishes inspired by her roots. Her Grandmother’s passion was inherited by Gloria along with a curious spirit to research food from other regions in Mexico such as the states of Yucatan, Oaxaca, Mexico City, Chiapas and her own state of Jalisco.

 

Gloria felt an important need to learn more about pre-Hispanic food in Mexico and master the ingredients that her ancestors used.  For example, in Oaxaca, she learned to master the “hoja santa” (Mexican pepperleaf) and “chapulines” (grasshoppers).  Her various culinary adventures in different Mexican regions, helped her develop the “Mole de Tamarindo”, “Mole Amarillo” and the “Cochinita Pibil” from the Yucatan Peninsula.

 

Gloria’s main goal is to research and master all the ingredients that are present in Mexican cuisine, and look for them in the most remote places of Mexico. This passion to learn from her roots has formed her career as a Chef, crafting dishes straight from the heart. Her personal experiences, shared with great love and passion for food can be tasted and seen at Tamarindo’s table.

Doña Libo, Mezcal | San Jose, California

 

Doña Libo takes pleasure in introducing people to the delights of Oaxacan food with its wide range of flavors and spices. She has been cooking Oaxacan food all of her life, learning from her mother and grandmother back home in Oaxaca. Doña Libo had a catering business in Oaxaca before coming to San Jose to help the family open the restaurant. The restaurant’s dishes are derived from her recipes and along with her son, Mezcal Chef Octavio Gomez; they ensure each plate meets their high standards before leaving the kitchen. She works diligently with Octavio to successfully pass along the secrets of her magnificent cuisine.

Jorge Sánchez & Doña Teresa Sánchez, Chacho’s | San Jose

 

In its beginning CHACHO’S was a Family owned business (the dream of Sebastian and Teresa Sánchez). The Sánchez family sons Jorge and Jamie Sánchez demonstrated distinct choices in menu and drinks specialties while playing around with it’s Chicano attitude of an ambiance. Since 1994 CHACHO’S has been serving quality Mexican food in an urban Chicano setting. Its culturally cool environment captures a blend of both Mexican and Mexican American culture: a splendidly rich barrio under one roof. When the sun goes down and the nightlife comes to life CHACHO’S is the place to be – offering great food, great drinks and memories to be made….. ay te huacho!

Alex Jiménez, The Farmer’s Union | San Jose, California

 

Born in Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, Mexico, Alex Jiménez learned to cook from an early age by spending many days and nights in the kitchen with his mother. When his uncle brought him to the US at 17, he found a job as a dishwasher at Gordon Biersch, and he knew right away that he wanted to become a chef. There he worked his way up to becoming a line cook and began his 28-year hands-on culinary career. He eventually moved to E&O Trading to work as a cook, where Susan Highland recognized his talents and gave him his first big break by making him Lead Chef. This instilled in him the confidence he needed to become the chef he is today.

 

Chef Jiménez's philosophy is “cook from the heart”, and his passion for cooking and the challenges it brings keeps him excited about his profession every day. Since joining Farmer's Union in 2013, he has applied this passion to create some of his favorite dishes, such as the Flat Iron Steak, Crab Cakes and the Turkey Sandwich. His love for cooking doesn't end when he leaves the restaurant - when he gets home he is right back in the kitchen, cooking more delicious dishes alongside his family. Although, he has eaten many exotic foods (including escarabajo, a beetle toasted with garlic, he loves preparing meat dishes like Carne Asada from his native Mexico. If Alex weren't a chef, he'd still pursue a hands-on career as an architect, where his first project would be finishing the remodel of his house.

Sammy Reyes, Scott’s Seafood | San Jose, California

 

Sammy Reyes was born in the historic port city of Veracruz, Mexico. At the tender age of 14 Sammy set sail to have the prevailing winds steer him to the San Francisco Bay Area. An alumnus of Woodside High School, the energetic and very social Sammy entered the restaurant industry as a dishwasher in a Palo Alto eatery. His future was cemented as he simultaneously took his first cooking class at Woodside as he learned the industry with direct experience on weekend and weeknights.

 

One can safely say that what was once a fascination eventually turned into his passion. His enthusiasm to learn everything about cooking didn’t go unnoticed. By the end of his high school years, Sammy had worked and excelled at every station in the back of the house. From dishwashing to grill and sauté.

 

While attending college, he furthered his knowledge of the culinary world as he transitioned to the front of the house. His sense of humor combined with a strong of sense of service served him well. Soon, Sammy would discover the remaining station he would fall in love with, but he had to wait until turning 21. You’ve guessed it. The bar.

 

This well rounded hands-on experience has served Sammy well. Currently he works as the Food and Beverage Director at Scott’s Seafood San Jose where he has a 12-year career. On any given day, you can spot him assisting the kitchen during the lunch hour and later mixing a specialty drink. But most of all, as he likes to point out: his true passion is pairing great food with fantastic wines and he gets to do that every day.

Juan Yánez, CET | San Jose, California

 

Born in a small town and raised on the family farm, Executive Chef Juan Yanez decided to explore new opportunities by starting a stewardship at the Hilton Hotel and Resort in Downtown San Jose at the age of 17. His dedication and hard work provided the vision to pursue a career in the culinary arts, as Chef Yanez then joined the Kimpton Properties at the Cypress Hotel in Cupertino as a sous chef, working under the tutelage of Executive Chef Brad Kraten.

Now with over 18 years of experience, Executive Chef Juan Yanez brings his passion for creating traditional and innovative dishes, using only the finest local and seasonal ingredients, to Catering with a Cause. Incorporating market-fresh vegetables, free-range meat and fresh seafood into his locally inspired menus, Chef Yanez’s local, fresh and organic approach to food is as distinguished as it is delectable.

Jay Marshall, CEC, AAC | Sysco, San Francisco

 

A 1976 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Jay has worked in various restaurants from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to Florida, including The Fromagerie in New Jersey and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. After moving to California more then 20 years ago he worked at San Jose State as Executive Chef. He recently took the Executive Chef position at Sysco San Francisco "its great working with so many passionate chefs and owners who are looking for new ideas as I can help them in the process"

 

Jay received San Francisco Chapter "Chef of the Year" for 2014. He also was the recipient in the Santa Clara Valley Chapter "Chef of the Year" back in 1994. He was also past president of the local American Culinary Federation Santa Clara Valley Chapter, and several National Committee Positions, including By-Laws and Parliamentarian and Site Accreditation Industry Advisor.  Jay earned his Certified Executive Chef in 1995 and was inducted in the American Academy of Chefs in 2006. Chef Marshall also holds several competition medals and Presidential Medallions from the late Noel Cullen and John Kinsella. Chef Marshall was a finalist in the 2015 ACF L.J. Minor Chef Professionalism Award.  Jay has now turned to mentoring young culinarians, he coached students for last year’s ACF California State Student Competition. Jay won first and/or second place in the Monterey Chowder Festival the past four years in a row. He also has Rib and Potato Salad Professional and People’s Choice awards from North Bay Rib Cook Off two years in a row. When he is not at work early in the morning or coaching his team late in the day, he is spending more time with his family including five grand children.

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