Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins©@claudetteazepeda

Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, the chef that pays homage to the soul of Mexican food

For a look at more exclusive photos from our LatiNext issue, pick up the October edition of HOLA! USA - available to subscribers and on newsstands now. Subscribe today!

Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins knows a thing or two about bringing the heat in the kitchen — whether through her food or her drive and determination that help her achieve whatever she sets her mind to. The Top Chef contestant has used the “do what you’ve got to do” mentality throughout her entire career and it has paid off. In HOLA! USA’s latest issue, This Is LatiNext, she shares how her background and culture has influenced her life and her cooking. Claudette loves her culture and heritage and it reflects within every dish that she conceives and plates.

Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, Pomegranate Beet Aguachile©HOLA! USA
Claudette’s restaurant was a finalist for Best Chef: West Coast at this year’s James Beard Awards

In an exclusive with HOLA! USA she shares “My memories revolve around food, so I like to say that we offer time capsules. You know that feeling when you eat something, and it transports you back to your childhood. Whatever it is, I want to offer a glimpse into the past that is looked at fondly.” Claudette wants to celebrate her culture through her cuisine and help create an understanding around what Mexican food is and can be. Interested in seeing what she can cook up? Check her out at her San Diego-based restaurant El Jardín or try the recipe below!

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Recipe for Pomegranate Beet Aguachile

Yields: two servings


4 beets, cubed

½ cup POM pomegranate juice

1 habanero, seeded (without seeds)

¼ cup of green onions, white part only

4 scallops, thinly sliced

½ cup pomegranate seeds

4 limes, juiced

4 lemons, juiced

Sea salt to taste

For herb salad:



Fennel leaves

Nasturtium flowers


In a blender add the cubed beets, habanero, and green onion.

Strain and mix with pomegranate, lime, and lemon juices.

Season with sea salt to taste.

Mix herb salad and set aside for plating.

Slice scallops and marinate in aguachile, just until coated.

Plate the marinated scallops in a bowl, pour in sauce, and top with pomegranate seeds and herb salad.

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