RVSD July/August 2011 : Page 74

s.d. confidential MEX SYMBOL Javier Plascencia at Romesco, one of his many Baja-style restaurants Border Calling Mexi-food king Javier Plascencia dishes on the misconceptions of Baja gourmet. | By Brandon Hernández | Photography by John Dole | In Baja, the name Plascencia is synonymous with good eats. Master chef, savvy businessman and cultural ambassador Javier Plascencia oversees the culinary empire started decades ago by his father, Juan. The family now boasts more than a dozen restaurants on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, including Javier’s new fine dining hot spot, Misión 19. In S.D., gourmands know all about his Baja-Med magic at Romesco (romescobajamed.com) in Bonita and his contributions to the city’s slow-food subculture. We spoke with the cross-cultural mogul on risotto, his dream job and why TJ is tastier than ever. be a sma r t a ss. My fat her built a restaura nt empire with hard work and vision. Forty-three years later, he’s still going. Go-to ing redients? Mexican vanilla, pasilla chile, olive oil, figs, fish. Your best dish? R isotto with huitlacoche, black truffle, heirloom beans and epazote froth. S .D. di sh? Tom y um soup at Sa ff ron— especia lly good after a hard night out with the boys. U.S . vs. Baja Mexican food — difference? We never ever use cumin in our beans and tacos! Tijuana food misconception? People think we just have great tacos and burritos. They don’t know the history of the Caesar salad [invented at Caesar’s on Revolución, which Plascencia reopened last year], the great ba keries or fine dining. Zona Gastronomica has 38 restaurants, from Baja-Med to A rgentinean, Chinese and Lebanese. If you weren’t running a restaurant empire? I would be a tour guide. I love to show people my city. I’m an art collector and a big supporter of t he Tijua na a r t scene. Viol e nce — real or negat ive h y pe? T he med ia went overboa rd. Yes, we had drug cartel violence. Drugs will Best advice? Listen to your fat her a nd don’t a lways be an issue in border towns, but they aren’t fighting for the plaza anymore. People are starting to see the good side of Tijuana: cultural, artistic, entrepreneurial and delicious. It’s my time to help, and I’ll do it with my cook ing. Average d ay? Java fi x at L a Sta zione Ca fé in TJ at 9 am . Then it’s off to the office, checking our kitchens, meeting with purveyors, and from 2 to 5 pm , I work the line at Misión 19 before crossing t he border to see my k ids’ ba seba ll games. By 7 pm , I’m back in TJ grabbing a glass of wine before getting back on the line. I’m home around midnight. Ultimate meal? At our Valle de Guadalupe home with family, friends a nd my brother’s ba nd, Baja Ja zz Ensemble. L oca l cheeses, pit-roa sted baby la mb, paella made with Ensenada seafood, salads from our garden, and lots of Baja wine. Faves? I love Baja nebbiolos. Sauvignon blancs are getting better and better, and Guadalupe carignan grapes are very interesting. Next biz? A tapas bar next to Caesar’s and a Guadalupe Valley boutique hotel where we’ll run an asador -t ype restaurant for this summer’s Vendimia Harvest Festival. R ( Plascencia’s Best ) Book: The Soul of a Chef S.D. Restos: The Linker y, Café Calabria , The Lodge at Torrey Pines and Extraordinar y Desser ts with my kids TJ Tacos: Tacos Salceados, Wash Mobile Tor tas, Kentucky Fried Buches TJ Haunts: TJ Countr y Club, Plaza Monumental during bullfight season, surfing K38 74 | | July /August 2011

The Radar S.D. Confidential

Brandon Hernández

Border Calling

Mexi-food king Javier Plascencia dishes on the misconceptions of Baja gourmet.

In Baja, the name Plascencia is synonymous with good eats. Master chef, savvy businessman and cultural ambassador Javier Plascencia oversees the culinary empire started decades ago by his father, Juan. The family now boasts more than a dozen restaurants on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, including Javier’s new fine dining hot spot, Misión 19. In S.D., gourmands know all about his Baja-Med magic at Romesco (romescobajamed.com) in Bonita and his contributions to the city’s slow-food subculture. We spoke with the cross-cultural mogul on risotto, his dream job and why TJ is tastier than ever.

Best advice? Listen to your father and don’t be a smart ass. My father built a restaurant empire with hard work and vision. Forty-three years later, he’s still going. Go-to ingredients? Mexican vanilla, pasilla chile, olive oil, figs, fish. Your best dish? Risotto with huitlacoche, black truffle, heirloom beans and epazote froth. S.D. dish? Tom yum soup at Saffron—especially good after a hard night out with the boys. U.S. vs. Baja Mexican food—difference? We never ever use cumin in our beans and tacos! Tijuana food misconception? People think we just have great tacos and burritos. They don’t know the history of the Caesar salad [invented at Caesar’s on Revolución, which Plascencia reopened last year], the great bakeries or fine dining. Zona Gastronomica has 38 restaurants, from Baja- Med to Argentinean, Chinese and Lebanese. If you weren’t running a restaurant empire? I would be a tour guide. I love to show people my city. I’m an art collector and a big supporter of the Tijuana art scene. Violence—real or negative hype? The media went overboard. Yes, we had drug cartel violence. Drugs will always be an issue in border towns, but they aren’t fighting for the plaza anymore. People are starting to see the good side of Tijuana: cultural, artistic, entrepreneurial and delicious. It’s my time to help, and I’ll do it with my cooking. Average day? Java fix at La Stazione Café in TJ at 9am. Then it’s off to the office, checking our kitchens, meeting with purveyors, and from 2 to 5pm, I work the line at Misión 19 before crossing the border to see my kids’ baseball games. By 7pm, I’m back in TJ grabbing a glass of wine before getting back on the line. I’m home around midnight. Ultimate meal? At our Valle de Guadalupe home with family, friends and my brother’s band, Baja Jazz Ensemble. Local cheeses, pit-roasted baby lamb, paella made with Ensenada seafood, salads from our garden, and lots of Baja wine. Faves? I love Baja nebbiolos. Sauvignon blancs are getting better and better, and Guadalupe carignan grapes are very interesting. Next biz? A tapas bar next to Caesar’s and a Guadalupe Valley boutique hotel where we’ll run an asador-type restaurant for this summer’s Vendimia Harvest Festival.

Read the full article at http://digital.modernluxury.com/article/The+Radar+S.D.+Confidential/760961/73049/article.html.

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