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Baja Chefs Series at Playa, Guest Chef: Benito Molina of Manzanilla in Ensenada

  • Sep 25, 2012 · 7:00 PM


We will be dining "Family Style." The food bill will be split evenly amongst all attendees. Attendees will be responsible for paying for their own beverages. Please note that flexibility is an important part of family-style dining, and if you want to take a chance on attending, you have to be amenable to what the group will order. You don't have to eat everything that is ordered, but everyone pays equally, whether you eat everything or not. The goal for family-style dining is to allow for the entire group to sample as wide a variety of dishes as possible. If one or more attendees choose to order on their own, that limits the group's choices, which defeats the purpose of what Family-Style Dining is all about. If this definition of Family-Style Dining doesn't feel comfortable, this may not be the right type of event for you.

From Los Angeles Magazine:

"File this one under: Si, por favor! The delicious Baja Invasion continues next month at Playa restaurant, where chef John Sedlar has invited some of the region’s top culinary talents to guest chef throughout the month of September. Each chef will cook five courses, ranging in price from $5 to $18.

Next up from September 23 to 25 is Benito Molina of Ensenada. One of the pioneers of the modern Baja Med movement, Molina cooks contemporary seafood-centric fare with a focus on regional wines at his restaurant Manzanilla."

From Baja California Culinary Festival 2012 website:

"He began his culinary life when he was fifteen during a summer vacation working at the restaurant Maxim’s de Paris in Mexico City. This experience set his destiny. During his studies in Economics he realized his true passion was cooking, he returned to Maxim’s where he worked as a fishmonger helper for a year, later on he set sailed on a fishing boat in the coasts of La Paz, Baja California Sur where he worked as a “pavo” (turkey) cook assistant and participated during the fishing of yellow fin tuna, an experience that reinforced his love for the sea.

He studied at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont where he would meet his mentor, the Maitre Cuisiner de France Michel LeBorgne that sent him to work with a French colleague to his native city of Bretagne where he learned the classic techniques to manage seafood. During this time in Europe he visits San Sebastian, Spain where he is marbled by the Basque cuisine. He then travels to Boston and works with Chef Todd English at his restaurant Olives as Chef de Partie of the wood oven and pastas, acquiring a more Mediterranean style, specially Italian, styles that would influence his cooking style. He returns to Mexico where he works as a Head Chef for the first time.

The prestigious oenologist Hugo D’Acosta hires him as Head Chef for the restaurant La Embotelladora Vieja in Ensenada, Baja California where he meets his talented wife Solange Muris, together they decide to open their own restaurant Manzanilla, named after the olive that grows in this region.

Today, Manzanilla specializes in sustainable local products, a trademark of the Baja California cuisine. Life & Style magazine named Manzanilla one of the three best restaurants in Mexico. The British publication Monocle named it one of the eight best in Mexico.

In 2007 he receives alongside Chef Pedro Martin the award to the most original pinxto during the Azrak de Oro in San Sebastian.

In 2009, the editorial group Larousse selects him as one of the top chefs of Mexico in a book with the same name.

Benito Molina has taken Mexican cuisine to cities like Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, San Sebastian, Stockholm and New York, just to mention a few."

Chef Molina will be preparing the following dishes for sale a la carte:

  • Conchas Estilo: Shellfish Surprise
  • Fried Abalone, Manzanilla Style
  • Tiradito Tongue with Nopales Salad
  • Chile Molé Pork Loin with Vanilla-Infused Apples
  • Fish of the Day, Black Bean Pureé and Cured Greens
  • Ceviche Verde

We will order about 2 to 3 orders of each dish so that everyone has an opportunity to get a taste or two of Chef Molina's creations.

The estimated cost per person is expected to be between $30 and $40, for the food, any beverages you may order, plus tax and gratuity. I would suggest that you bring at least $60 in CASH to settle your portion of the bill.

Validated valet parking for about $7 is available in front of the restaurant. Street parking is also available. Be sure to read the street signs for any parking restrictions. We will meet inside the lobby of the restaurant about 5 to 10 minutes before our 7:00pm reservation.

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