Chef Mario Medina found an opportunity and a culinary mentor in San Diego: Baja Window to the South

Chef Damaso Lee was the only person in this border city who hired Mario

Photo by: Facebook Damaso Lee & Mario Medina

Mario Medina is an immigrant chef who came to the US illegally when he was 14 years old. He crossed the border into Phoenix, Arizona, spending three days in the desert. Once he arrived, he went to Watsonville, California where he worked in strawberry and flower fields. However, he stated that he was constantly fired because he is colorblind and it was very hard to get hired because of his age, lack of English, and because he didn’t have any legal paperwork signed by his parents that would allow him to work.

Due to these difficult circumstances, Mario decided to go back to Mexico. When he was going through San Diego, he decided to ask for work in restaurants at La Jolla, though all restaurants rejected him. Chef Mario is from a generation that thought that the kitchen was only a place for women, though he himself didn’t think this. In fact, he thinks that everyone belongs in the kitchen and it was only when he got to the last restaurant in La Jolla that his now culinary mentor, Damaso Lee of Trattoria Acqua, decided to hire him.

Mario started working as a dishwasher in this restaurant. He thought that he needed to be the best regardless of his position. After several situations, Chef Damaso decided to give Mario a chance, so he started working preparing food. From there, he began to be promoted repeatedly and he was never a dishwasher again.

Denitza García along with Chef Mario went to his restaurant called Ursula located in Rosarito. Here, he cooked some seafood fajitas with octopus, shrimp, bell peppers, onion, garlic, a special secret sauce, and flour tortillas.

To find out more about Baja Window to the South follow their social media pages:

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