San Diego MasterChef Winner Announces End Of Bakery Dreams Due To Coronavirus Fallout

April 22, 2020

After raising nearly $60,000 last year to open a casual Mexican bakery in South County dubbed El Cochi Dorado, San Diego-based MasterChef winner Claudia Sandoval has announced that her dreams to open a modern panaderia have been crushed due to the fallout of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

San Diego native and the winner of Fox Network's MasterChef Season 6, Claudia Sandoval launched a Kickstarter campaign last fall seeking at least $50,000 to assist her in the opening of El Cochi Dorado ("the golden pig"), a Modern Mexican Bakery expected to open this June in National City. Chef Claudia ended up raising $59,208 from approximately 592 backers.

"My goal is to raise $150K in order to get my Bakery up an [sic] running by June 2020," explained Claudia Sandoval on her Kickstarter campaign page. "This will cover the most basic start up cost and I plan on putting up an additional $150K to make it spectacular."

In a tear-filled video message published to her social media channels this week, Claudia announced that due to the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, her business loan was pushed "all the way to the back of the line" and she was now trying to get out of her lease at 801 National City Boulevard, Suite 104B, in San Diego's National City. She explained that Kickstarter funds of more than $11,000 were used to secure her lease, and over $5,000 was already spent purchasing equipment and tools. This past February, Claudia also took a trip to Spain, possibly to do culinary research in preparation for the opening of El Cochi Dorado.

"We don’t pretend to be the hardest hit," said Sandoval in her social media post announcing the bakery was no longer happening. "We know there are restaurants out there struggling to make ends meet and to pay/feed their employees. But we are incredibly saddened to have to let go of a dream that fueled us to build a brick and mortar unlike any other alongside our Community."

Raised in San Diego's National City, Claudia Sandoval won season 6 of Fox's hit primetime home cook competition MasterChef, being awarded with $250,000 in prize money and a cookbook deal. Claudia was also Taj√≠n International's official chef and recipe creator in the United States, as well as a head judge on MasterChef Latino, a hit cooking competition on Telemundo. In 2015, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors proclaimed December 15 to be "Claudia Sandoval Day" throughout the County Of San Diego.

Claudia's El Cochi Dorado was described as a casual modern Mexican bakery with a focus on traditional Mexican pastries like conchas (Mexican sweet bread roll), orejas (heart-shaped cinnamon puff pastry), and puerquitos/cochi (pig shaped cookies). In exchange for pledges, Claudia's Kickstarter campaign offered a variety of rewards for donations of $100+, $500+, $1,000+ and $5,000+. There is no word whether any of the nearly $60,000 raised on KickStarter will be returned or what will come of the money. 

"Many investors came forward but wanted to define my menus and keep them to just the basics of Americanized Mexican," continued Sandoval on her KickStarter page for the project. "My goal is to continue to prove and provide examples that Mexican and Latino food is so much more than rice, beans, and churros. That it's a labor of love, made with complex ingredients, and by no means street/cheap food."

We reached out to Claudia Sandoval for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publishing. For more information, visit chefclaudiasandoval.com and check out her full announcement below.







My Dearest Friends and Supporters, As COVID-19 has ravaged throughout the World taking the lives and futures of many businesses and restaurants all over, we knew that it was a possibility that Cochi Dorado would also face some challenges. What we didn’t expect was that the growing need for Small Business Loans by our colleagues would push our business Loan, that was close to closing, all the way to the back of the line. We don’t pretend to be the hardest hit. We know there are restaurants out there struggling to make ends meet and to pay/feed their employees. But we are incredibly saddened to have to let go of a dream that fueled us to build a brick and mortar unlike any other alongside our Community. The official email we got said the following: “Because of what happened with the Covid-19 it has become our priority to do loans that help small business owners that have been operating since ‪12/19‬ and also to help our existing clients with a PPP loan. That being said until things get a little back to normal, I do not believe that we would be able to approve you to build a restaurant or kitchen since all that is allowed is take out. And even at that, restaurants that were very busy and popular are having a very hard time surviving and staying open with take-out and delivery only.” Our team had spent the last few months gearing up for meeting with City Officials, meeting Construction Companies, Window Professionals, Plumbers, Electricians, Architects, Graphic Designers, Accountants, and Mentors. We had retained a lease in our ideal location and were ready to go. The only thing pending was the Loan. We used Kickstarter funds for the more than $11K to secure our lease, spent over $5k on purchasing equipment and tools. And more on the aforementioned services and fees. And now we have to begin the work of trying to get out of our lease. On a personal note. I haven’t stopped crying. This wasn’t just a dream it was to become a legacy and livelihood for my Munchkin. I am deeply hurt and believe there is still a part of me that is still in shock. A friend of mine said I have a perfect record of bouncing back and coming back stronger and I hope to do that.
A post shared by Chef Claudia (@chefclaudiasandoval) on

My Dearest Friends and Supporters,

As COVID-19 has ravaged throughout the World taking the lives and futures of many businesses and restaurants all over, we knew that it was a possibility that Cochi Dorado would also face some challenges. What we didn’t expect was that the growing need for Small Business Loans by our colleagues would push our business Loan, that was close to closing, all the way to the back of the line.

We don’t pretend to be the hardest hit. We know there are restaurants out there struggling to make ends meet and to pay/feed their employees. But we are incredibly saddened to have to let go of a dream that fueled us to build a brick and mortar unlike any other alongside our Community.

The official email we got said the following:

“Because of what happened with the Covid-19 it has become our priority to do loans that help small business owners that have been operating since 12/19 and also to help our existing clients with a PPP loan.

That being said until things get a little back to normal, I do not believe that we would be able to approve you to build a restaurant or kitchen since all that is allowed is take out. And even at that, restaurants that were very busy and popular are having a very hard time surviving and staying open with take-out and delivery only.”

Our team had spent the last few months gearing up for meeting with City Officials, meeting Construction Companies, Window Professionals, Plumbers, Electricians, Architects, Graphic Designers, Accountants, and Mentors. We had retained a lease in our ideal location and were ready to go. The only thing pending was the Loan.

We used Kickstarter funds for the more than $11K to secure our lease, spent over $5k on purchasing equipment and tools. And more on the aforementioned services and fees. And now we have to begin the work of trying to get out of our lease.

On a personal note. I haven’t stopped crying. This wasn’t just a dream it was to become a legacy and livelihood for my Munchkin. I am deeply hurt and believe there is still a part of me that is still in shock. A friend of mine said I have a perfect record of bouncing back and coming back stronger and I hope to some day do that, god willing. But for now, I ask you to say a little prayer for my broken spirit and dreams. COVID 19 May have claimed the life of Cochi Dorado, but it will never stop our resilience for life. Please stay strong out there.

One more thing, I know that I could have done nothing to prevent this from happening. But I’m so sooooo sorry. I’m sorry for letting you down. I too have seen the people I look up to brought to tears about the devastating effect that COVID-19 has had on our incomes, lives, and friends and family. And know how hard it is to see someone you look up to broken. But I need you to know, you guys make me stronger. I am grateful for my health. For my platform, and for the opportunity to fail.
Please stay home, please love one another. All we have is each other.
All my best Always,

Chef Claudia



The following was posted and sent by Claudia Sandoval following the publishing of this article:




This is a developing story: We will update this post as we learn more.