The successful Candelas restaurant, located in Downtown San Diego, has opened a second restaurant featuring delectable Mexico City-style cuisine, created by Executive Chef Eduardo Baeza. Not only is the Coronado location for Candelas on the Bay a gorgeous place to dine with views of Downtown San Diego, it also serves gorgeous and delicious dishes consistent with the first location.
As we sit down with Baeza to find out more about Candelas on the Bay, the manager, Stefano, serves as his interpreter. Although Baeza is speaking Spanish, and we cannot understand what he is saying completely, there is no doubt that he is an experienced chef and has a strong passion for creating exceptional cuisine.
With the new opening at Coronado, Baeza spends his time juggling both restaurants. Baeza can be found at Candelas on the Bay at lunch because the downtown location is closed for lunch. He splits up his time for dinner depending on which location is busier. He assumes that he will spend more time in Coronado during the summer and more time downtown during the winter.
Baeza’s inspiration for cooking comes from his mother. Stefan translates that Baeza’s mother liked to cook, and it is a tradition in Mexico where the mothers cook for their families. His mother apparently inspired the rest of his family to enter the culinary world because his two sisters are chefs and his brother is a pastry chef. As a child, Baeza loved the chiles releños his mother made and added this item to the Candelas on the Bay lunch menu.
His family also had an influence on the Langosta Baeza dish, which has a fresh lobster tail surrounded by seven pepitas (pumpkin seeds). These seven pepitas represent the seven members of his family.
“In that moment when he created that dish, he was very nostalgic for his family,” Stefano explains.
After working in different restaurants in Mexico City for 12 years where he mostly worked with French cuisine, Baeza came to San Diego and started to work for Candelas. He calls San Diego “maginifico” and a “paradise.”
For the last 10 years he has worked at Candelas, and Baeza has combined French techniques with Mexican cuisine. Stefan translates that he is inspired by innovations and wants to create something unique and different.
“He doesn’t have a fixed path where he has to take influences and innovate. He thinks out of the box,” Stefano translates.
According to Stefano, Baeza wants customers to have an open mind when it comes to the cuisine at Candelas. When people think about Mexican food, they think of the cliché of tacos, enchiladas, and taquitos. But to the contrary, Baeza tries new ways of preparation, presentation, and flavors. For example, he makes his tacos with a parmesan cheese crust.
Another unique dish that Baeza created was a hamburger made with homemade bread and meat marinated in a special mixture. This creative twist on the hamburger is an unusual item to have on the Mexican restaurant’s menu, but Baeza hopes that he can show patrons not to expect the usual type of Mexican cuisine.
When it comes to playing favorites with ingredients and dishes, Baeza has no favorites. He just wants his dishes to be fresh and have good quality. Having fresh ingredients is the most important thing when it comes to cooking.
When it comes to challenges, Stefano explains that time is the biggest one.
“He has such a big set of ideas of things to cook, but he needs people to be willing to wait.” Stefano explains.
At the downtown location, there is a chef’s table where Baeza cooks right on the spot, and he gets creative with his dishes. But this process is time consuming and becomes a challenge when people want their food promptly.
If Baeza isn’t busy cooking for both Candelas restaurants, he can be found relaxing at home making barbeque-style seafood and fish poolside.
The food at Candelas on the Bay is different than the typical Mexican food you find all over San Diego; it awakens the taste buds with its non-traditional cooking style. The Mexican-French fusion of cuisine created by Baeza is one-of-a-kind and inventive. With Baeza in the kitchen, guests can be assured that their meal will be unlike any other Mexican dining experience they have has thus far.