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Priscilla Curiel

I was born in San Diego, California in 1986 but I was raised in Tijuana. My childhood was spent crossing the border everyday. I grew up in a happy, warm family with my parents and my little brother. I wanted to be an actress so I was always singing, dancing or performing in some way. My mother did most of the cooking but we lived with a woman that helped my mother with all the work around the house, her name was Raulina. My mother learned to cook from her mother in Tinguindí­n, Michoacán. She made traditional meals and one dish that I remember fondly is the morisqueta that is simply rice with beans, cheese and a salsa.

Our home had a typical eighties kitchen colored mint green and on days of celebration, I would help my mom but I wasn't very interested in cooking until much later on my life. In the 80s and 90s, Tijuana did not have very many options for fine dining. My father was able to manage two restaurants, La Leña and La Espadaña and both became landmarks for our region. I remember running after school to eat the quesadillas from Doña Malena's comal.

I graduated from high school in San Diego and I was a calm romantic rebel interested in music and art. I would write all my romantic thoughts in my diary. I loved ditching school and going down to the beach. At 17, I went to Europe for the first time and my worldview widened. When I came home, I began to work in the family restaurants and decided that I would work just enough to save and travel forever. At the end of the summer, I ended up spending all my savings to watch The Cure in concert.

At the age of 19, I got pregnant with my daughter and even though I had her young and while I was still in college studying humanities and art, I don't particularly think of this time as being difficult. I knew I had the ability to continue following my dreams and my goals. I began working at our family bakery called Maya Chiang but I got fired by one the partners for expressing an opinion about the business before I had any formal culinary education and that was a threat to the partner. The bakery happened to be next door to another restaurant we owned in San Diego called Talavera Azul serving Mexican cuisine. It was and is very popular for the locals. Even though I enjoyed decorating the cakes, I recognized that I was beginning to fall in love with Mexican food and I wanted to establish my unique voice and style. So, I graduated from the Art Institute of San Diego with my degree in Culinary Arts.

After graduation, I left that summer for Europe and spent time in Paris studying their food and culture and I came back with wonderful new ideas. After school, I kept working at the restaurant innovating recipes and dishes. Being at the restaurant helped me to get my experience for what I really wanted in my culinary career. Since then, I have traveled around Mexico to expand my knowledge to understand more of Mexican cuisine and the culture behind every meal that is served in the kitchen. I find myself very interested in food photography and travel pictures as well. I want to capture timeless moments with the camera and preserve the memories. Every time I get back from a different location, I discover more of who I am and who I want to become. I try to find art in everything I do and I won't stop because you can never stop learning. I have a wandering mind and I am using it to create cookbooks and to serve people delicious meals.