Daniela Santana

I had an excellent childhood in a small house with an active kitchen in clear colors. On one side, it was traditional Mexican food. Tortillas and beans. On the other side, my grandmother cooked Asian foods. My parents showed me how to be a happy child. I had some responsibilities around the house but I had a lot of freedom. Both of my grandparents on both sides were always present. My father's name is Santana Lee and his parents were Chinese and as I understand it, my ancestors escaped a war by coming to Mexicali in Mexico.

In high school, I was studying in Tijuana. I continued my happy childhood with a happy adolescence and even though I studied medicine for a year, I quickly changed and enrolled at the Culinary Art School in Tijuana. I was destined to work with food because my grandparents were breadmakers in Tecate and my parents own four restaurants. When I was in school, I stayed out of the family business but once I matriculated, I have become a part of the success story. One of the family restaurants is Tex Mex but slowly we have been trying to bring back the original Mexican flavors.

We also have a goat ranch where we make cheese. Our ranch is situated on the road to Ensenada and we have hundreds of animals that produce delicious milk and cheese. I dedicated myself to working on the ranch from beginning to end starting four years ago after I graduated in 2009. We started small with very few goats and I grew the business until we were shipping cheese to every city in Baja California. For a time, we were the only goat's milk cheese pasteurized in Baja California but we have since closed the ranch. During my first year of Culinary school, I was married and we had a son named Juan Manuel. I was very young and I was afraid but I didn't let my fear get the best of me. I think I have made good decisions and I have lived a calm, happy life. I live with my son in Tecate in a house and my mother comes over often to cook for us. We split our tastes between Mexican and Chinese food.