Top Chefs from Both Sides of the Border to Battle at Baja California’s Batalla Culinaria on October 18 & 19 | 3 Friendly Culinary Competitions to Take Place at Tijuana's Biennial Conference - Tijuana Innovadora 2014

September 24, 2014

Some of the best chefs from both sides of the border will come together this fall to battle it out Iron Chef-style! Legendary chefs, as well as the new generation they are inspiring, will face off in the border region’s premier gastronomic event - “Batalla Culinaria,” which features some of the culinary innovators from Mexico and San Diego squaring off in three friendly battles on the weekend of October 18 and 19 in Tijuana’s Caliente Racetrack grounds. It’s all part of the biennial conference, Tijuana Innovadora 2014, which showcases innovation in technology, industry and culture over 10 days of events.

The first edition of “Batalla Culinaria” two years ago pitted two teams of chefs in one exhilarating competition. The 2014 edition builds on that foundation, presenting “battles” in three categories - men, women and pastry. Eight leading chefs from San Diego County and Baja California will compete in each category, underscoring the event’s slogan, “Food has no borders.” Like the show, Iron Chef, they will receive a secret ingredient then prepare multi-course offerings as attendees cheer them on, before being judged by industry professionals.

Chefs Javier Plascencia and Chad White two years ago
The battles will be hosted by two chefs whose creative Baja cuisine has drawn worldwide acclaim - Javier Plascencia, of Misión 19, Erizo and other signature restaurants on both sides of the border; and Miguel Ángel Guerrero, of La Querencia and El Taller, among others. These two men are known as the founding fathers of the "Baja-Med" style and cuisine. They will be joined by a third host, Chad White, the innovative San Diego chef whose Común Kitchen and Tavern in San Diego's East Village, and La Justina in Tijuana, have created culinary buzz on each side of the border. The judges will include influential chefs, food writers and marketers from Valle de Guadalupe to Los Angeles.

“This event shows this beautiful cross-border relationship,” said White, who participated in the 2012 Batalla Culinaria edition. “This event says, ‘Come down to Baja. We’ll welcome you; we’ll feed you amazing food and show you the best hospitality.'”

Tickets for “Batalla Culinaria” are available for purchase online. Select the date from the program and then “Batalla Culinaria.” Each “battle” costs $30 (385 pesos) for general seating, and $47 (605 pesos) for the VIP section. Each lasts roughly four hours. On October 18, the women will compete from 10am to 2pm and the men from 4 to 8pm. On October 19, it's all about the pastry from 10am to 2pm.

Groups of 25 to 56 who wish to attend Batalla Culinaria may arrange convenient, round-trip transportation from San Diego to the event’s site, Agua Caliente Racetrack. Reservation requests should be sent to

San Diego's Mayor will be there!
In addition to the culinary battle, on October 17, the conference Tijuana Innovadora will feature three culinary innovators: José Iturriaga, the Mexican historian who successfully lobbied UNESCO to list traditional Mexican cuisine as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity; Carlos Ruiz, who created the “Nespresso”-like tortilla-making machine; both of whom will give talks; and the famed celebrity chef, José Andrés, who will deliver a keynote address.  Andrés, 'the Spaniard,' named by Time magazine as one of the “100 most influential people in the world,” elevated Spanish cuisine in the U.S., where he’s become known “The king of tapas.” Other influential persons attending the 10-day Tijuana Innovadora include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the Dog Whisperer César Millán, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and many more.

Tickets for that block of speakers and keynote address on October 17 may also be purchased online for $27 on the conference website.

The participating chefs in the Culinary Battles are:

Men – Drew Deckman (Deckman’s en el Mogor, Baja California); George Morris (Beaumont’s, La Jolla); Martín San Roman (La Terrasse, Guadalupe Valley); Jason McLeod (Ironside Fish & Oyster, Little Italy); Rodolfo Luviano (Ta’costeño, Tijuana); Ryan Steyn (Jardín Adobe, Valle del Guadalupe); Antonio Santoyo (Elementos Restaurante, Tijuana); and Iker Castillo (La Justina, Tijuana).

Women – Adria Maria Montaño (Dandelion, Tijuana); Amy DiBiase (Tidal, San Diego), Christine Rivera (George’s at the Cove, San Diego); Karla Navarro (The Kitchen, Tijuana); Mariela Magoni (La Palette, San Diego), Sara Polczynski (The Blind Burro, San Diego); Giannina Gavaldón (Olivia, Valle de Guadalupe); and Nancy León (Chan’s Bistro, Tijuana).

Pastry – Bianca Castro (Biscotti’s, Mexicali); Elsa Fernanda Flores (Dolce Salato, Tijuana), Hermila Corbala (Mily Sweets, Tijuana), Jordana Salas (Oh Bon Bon, Tijuana); Margu Plascencia (L’Artisan, Tijuana), Maribel Villareal (L’Apricot, Tijuana); Rachel King (Nine-Ten, La Jolla) and Donna Antaloczy (Ironside Fish & Oyster, Little Italy)

A complete conference program is available online in English at Follow Tijuana Innovadora (English) on Facebook for real time updates and information.