Former Bracero Chef Joins Rise & Shine Restaurant Group For New Liberty Station Mexican Concept El Jardin

January 17, 2017  

Johan Engman's Rise and Shine Restaurant Group, the hospitality collective behind Fig Tree Cafe, Breakfast Republic, and incoming North Park Breakfast and Pizza Republic, has added former Bracero Chef de Cuisine Claudette Wilkins as Research and Development Chef until she takes the helm as Executive Chef at the group’s new El Jardin modern Mexican restaurant opening its doors in Liberty Station in early 2018. Wilkins will also participate as a "cheftestant" on the next season of Top Chef México.

"It was evident from our first few meetings that Chef Claudette would be an awesome fit,” says Rise and Shine’s owner Johan Engman. "From her creativity in the kitchen and passion for food, to her future goals and desire to help our organization reach new heights, I am thrilled to bring Claudette on board."

Expressing her desire to celebrate Mexico’s vibrant flavors, Chef Claudette held a position as Chef de Cuisine, helping open and lead Little Italy’s highly-anticipated Bracero Cocina De Raiz in 2015 under the guidance of famed Baja celebrity chef Javier Placencia. Before that, she worked at hotspots such as at Sea180 and East Village’s Jsix, and has a plateful of experience as a sous chef, butcher, owner and pastry chef.

Most recently, Chef Claudette has been tapping into her Guadalajara roots and channeling her experience with Baja-Med-influenced cuisine into a series of pop-up events around the U.S. and beyond - her most recent dinners taking place at Liv Restaurant and The Black Lodge in Ontario, Canada. In Indianapolis, for example, she will be presenting a 14-course regional Mexico dinner (which sold out in less than 24 hours) with Food & Wine  Top 10 alum Jonathan Brooks of Milktooth. And on January 28th she will be testing out some dishes for El Jardin. Claudette will also be a contestant on Season 2 of Top Chef México, which begins February 24 on Canal Sony in Mexico and will be available in the U.S. through NBC Universo. 

"I’m excited to begin this new adventure as Rise & Shine’s R&D Chef, so that together we can take San Diego’s restaurant scene by storm," said Chef Claudette.

El Jardin will be a Mexican eatery located in the 8,800 square foot indoor/outdoor space across from the company's Breakfast Republic in Liberty Station. The restaurant will include a 3,300 square foot bar and interior dining room as well as a 5,500 square foot outdoor patio. Chef Claudette will prepare a menu of modern and traditional, regional Mexican dishes. El Jardin is expected to open in early 2018.

For  more information, visit