Marcela Valladolid '96
Chef, author and co-host of the Food Network television series, The Kitchen
Growing up around expert and traditional cooks in Tijuana, Mexico, Chef Marcela was raised to be passionate about food. She jumped straight into a culinary life with her first job working at her aunt’s cooking school in Baja, Mexico. She realized she too wanted to pursue her growing love for food full time and enrolled in the Los Angeles Culinary Institute. She continued her education at the Ritz Escoffier Cooking School in Paris where she became trained as a classic French pastry chef.
Marcela then returned home to run a catering company and began to teach children about the culinary arts in Tijuana. All the while, collecting recipes and applying her knowledge and skills of her family’s cooking traditions to map out her dreams. Marcela eventually parlayed her classical training and skills to become a food editor at Bon Appétit magazine.
Marcela quickly realized that information on authentic Mexican cooking wasn’t as accessible as it should be. The perception of her cuisine was masked by heavy liquid cheese, overstuffed burritos and more misguided dishes so she decided that she was going to prove to the world that in fact there’s NO yellow cheese in real Mexican cooking and it can be done with major flavors and little fuss in your home kitchen.
Next she crossed into TV when she landed her own cooking show on Discovery en Español called Relatos con Sabor and was selected as one of the contenders on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.
In August 2009, Marcela was given the chance to showcase her family recipes when she released her first cookbook titled FRESH MEXICO: 100 Simple Recipes for True Mexican Flavor (Clarkson Potter). She appeared on Today show, The View was featured in Latina, People, People en Espanol, Wall Street Journal and the New York Daily News around its release. The book was very well received reaching the #1 cookbook spot on Amazon.com on more than one occasion. With the book, Marcela became the advocate for great Mexican food that delivers in freshness and flavor without forcing home cooks to track down hard-to-find ingredients or spend hours at the stove.
Soon after her book release, she landed a dream job as the host of her own Food Network show, “Mexican Made Easy.” The show made its debut early in 2010 and filmed in San Diego where Marcela currently resides. The fifth season of the show aired in the summer of 2012.
Marcela released a second cookbook called Mexican Made Easy (Clarkson Potter) on September 27, 2011. The book is a companion to her Food Network show and serves as an entryway into authentic Mexican cuisine. It also earned the #1 Mexican cookbook spot on Amazon.com more than once and Marcela landed appearances on the Today show, The Talk, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Rachael Ray show and more.
In October of 2011, the First Family asked her to participate in their Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at the White House. It was her second time being invited to the White House with the first being their famous Easter Egg Roll event earlier in 2011.
In the summer of 2013, Marcela was named a judge on “The American Baking Competition” that aired nationally on CBS and appeared on The Talk and The Chew in support of the series debut.
Shortly after in the fall of 2013, she teamed up with Safeway stores to release her very own product line called “Marcela Valladolid” featuring several dozen products available nationwide. The line offers shoppers authentic, easy and affordable meal solutions and products range from flavorful snacks to tortillas to ready-to-cook meats.
Currently, Marcela shares hosting duties on “The Kitchen” the Emmy nominated talk show on The Food Network alongside Sunny Anderson, Katie Lee, Jeff Mauro and Geoffrey Zakarian. Airing weekly, these famous stars share simple supper ideas, partake in food trend discussions and cover all things fun in food.
On a personal note, she is the mother to three wonderful children Fausto who doubles as her sous chef at just twelve years old, David who is one year old, and Anna Carina her youngest who is now one month old.
Mistress of Ceremonies: Katia Lopez-Hodoyan '98
Bilingual Journalist at NBC 7 San Diego
Katia Lopez-Hodoyan is an award-winning bilingual journalist, currently working for NBC 7 San Diego. She recently came back from Rome, Italy, where she worked as a foreign TV correspondent for five years. She covered the election of Pope Francis, both terrorist attacks in Paris, and papal trips to Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Bosnia-Herzegovina. While overseas, Lopez-Hodoyan lived in a refugee camp in Jordan.
Lopez-Hodoyan was raised and educated on both sides of the Tijuana/San Diego border. She is a graduate of the University of San Francisco.
Closing Speaker: Danielle Dietz-LiVolsi
Founder and CEO of NuttZo LLC
Danielle Dietz-LiVolsi is revolutionizing the peanut butter and nut butter industry. With over 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Danielle developed and implemented the strategic rollout of the NuttZo™ brand – a premium nut butter that blends seven organic nuts and seeds. Known for its unique, no-mess, upside-down packaging, this super healthy spread is delicious on your favorite cracker or right out of the jar.
Of course, NuttZo is more than just nuts and seeds. The heart and soul of the company is its non-profit, Project Left Behind. In 2008, Danielle brought NuttZo to the marketplace and also founded the nonprofit, Project Left Behind (PLB), to support the children she and her husband ‘left behind’ after adopting their two sons from the Ukraine. NuttZo donates a portion of its sales to the nonprofit with donations exceeding over $200,000 in eight years.
Danielle’s core philosophy is that you can use business as a vehicle for change, inspiration and good. Danielle is an avid runner, hiker, traveler and yoga-lover, and resides with her family in San Diego, CA.