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Chefs Shine at Sabor de Baja 2017

Highlights from the peninsula’s premier culinary competition, held annually at the Rosarito Beach Hotel

All photos courtesy of Lynn Gatch

This year’s event marked the 5th anniversary of the popular Sabor de Baja, one of Baja California’s premier annual galas that focuses upon fine regional wines and craft brews paired with the exquisite offerings of some of the area’s top chefs.

Sabor de Baja 2017

Chef Bo Bendana, formerly of the restaurant Mi Casa Supper Club in Rosarito, took second place in the food competition.

The Rosarito Beach Hotel and Chef Bo Bendana, formerly of the Mi Casa Supper Club restaurant in Rosarito, have been at the forefront of this friendly gastronomic competition since its very beginning. And once again, the White Party theme added an even brighter element to the festivities, as a record number of delighted attendees milled past the rows of booths and kiosks that offered samples of an impressive array of gourmet foods and delightful wines.

Sabor de Baja 2017

As usual, the annual White Party theme at this year’s Sabor de Baja helped make spirits even brighter.

Each year, the culinary offerings at Sabor de Baja seem to inch their way up to an even higher level than the previous year’s event, and this year was no exception.  The recently remodeled Chabert’s Restaurant at the Rosarito Beach Hotel drew great praise from those in attendance with upscale appetizers as they began the foray upon the tasty trail that lay before them.

Sabor de Baja 2017

The newly remodeled Chabert’s Restaurant at the Rosarito Beach Hotel offered up a tasty presentation of delicious canapes for attendees.

In the end, the winners of the competition are ultimately determined by a panel of astute judges, which this year was comprised of Nick Gilman, freelance Mexican food journalist, Mei Ibach, Culinary Instructor at Santa Rosa Community College, Chef John Ash, renowned chef, Food Network host and author, as well as Scott Koenig, a San Diego based food and lifestyle writer covering Mexico.  The People’s Choice award was decided by attendees who marked and submitted a ballot that was provided as they entered the event.

Sabor de Baja 2017

Guests were treated to a variety of epicurean delights like these grilled oysters in flavorful Asian sauce.

When all was said and done, the winners of this year’s Sabor de Baja were:


52KOOL – Chef Oswaldo Flores / Pairing by Border Psycho Brewery


Mi Casa Supper Club – Chef Jorge Cuadros / Pairing by Vinos El Cielo


Casa Plascencia – Chef Didier Hernandez / Pairing by Monte Xanic


KOI SUSHIChef Yaron Del Moral / Pairing by Valley Girl Wines

Although the Sabor de Baja has traditionally provided a showcase for northern Baja’s finest wines, this year’s First Place pairing award went to Border Psycho, a purveyor of quality craft beers based in Tijuana.

Sabor de Baja 2017

Although fine wines may be more prolific at Sabor de Baja, this year’s top honors were taken by Tijuana’s craft brewers who produce Border Psycho; a sophisticated and powerful IPA, paired with food provided by 52 KOOL restaurant, also from Tijuana.

While microbreweries have only been competing at the Sabor de Baja for a few years, their popularity as an accompaniment to gourmet cuisine has been growing exponentially and promises to become even more prominent in events to come.     

The grand tradition of Sabor de Baja continues next year on August 29, the last Wednesday in August. Mark your calendar now; the next gala promises to, once again, transcend the expectations of those who are lucky enough to attend it. is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at




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About Tom Gatch

For over a decade, Hooked on Baja author, Tom Gatch, has built a solid reputation as one of the foremost writers and columnists focusing on travel and recreational activities in Baja and southern California. His company, El Puerto Creative Consultants provides professional copy writing services and creative support for business entities on both sides of the border.

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