Claudette Wilkins

Claudette Zepeda has had a very close relationship with the kitchen throughout her life. As a child she was exposed to avors, smells and colors of traditional Mexican food, thanks to the in uence of her family in Guadalajara, Jalisco, who operated the restaurant Las Calandrias, famous for cooking the best red pozole in Zapopan.

It was in 2007 when she took the Pastry Chef position for Chef Gavin Kaysen at El Bizcocho that she discovered her true passion for food and the industry. In 2008 she took the Pastry Chef position at Jsix in downtown San Diego, where she would also run artisan bread program and learned charcuterie, and nose to tail butchery and cooking. That’s when the shift happened and she decided to move from sweet to salty.

The big career leap happened once she met Chef Javier Plascencia in 2015 and she joined his team at Bracero Cocina de Raiz, his newest opening in San Diego. Initially hired to be a butcher and lead in the kitchen, but her role evolved quickly to Chef De Cuisine. While leading the BOH at Bracero she had the opportunity to cook next to amazing Chefs, Carlos Salgado, Rick Bayless & team at Bracero and his annual ModMex event in Chicago, Ray Garcia, Jose Ramon Castillo and Ned Elliot just to name a few. One of her biggest achievements during her role as kitchen leader in Bracero was to have received with her team a semi-finalist nomination for The James Beard Foundation for best restaurant and EATER recognized Bracero as one of the best restaurants in the US in 2016. In January 2016 she spent a couple of weeks touring as part of the CRUX collective, with Chefs Laura Higgins-Baltzey & Brandon Baltzley, Jonathan Brooks, Kyle Paton who collaborate with other Chef’s in cities throughout USA and Canada. The Summer of 2016 included winning the Chef’s Roll Chef’s Plate 9 competition in Los Angeles. In the beginning of 2017 it was announced that she is a participant in the second season of Top Chef Mexico traveling throughout all of Mexico and learning the indigenous cuisines that make up the countries bountiful traditions.

Currently, she is working with the Rise & Shine Restaurant Group as R&D chef for the quickly growing San Diego group. Along with developing new concepts within the company Chef Claudette is working on the build out of the groups rst Mexican food concept where she will move from Corporate team member to Executive Chef of the regional Mexican cuisine restaurant, El Jardín is located in the Historic Point Loma Liberty Station in San Diego, set to open early 2018.

R&D Chef

Rise & Shine Restaurant Group
San Diego, California