San Diego Resident and ‘MasterChef' Winner Releases Cookbook

“Claudia’s Concina: A Taste of Mexico” features recipes created by San Diego resident Claudia Sandoval, winner of the 2015 season of “MasterChef”

A San Diego resident-turned-TV chef is entering another chapter of her culinary career: her new cookbook has just been released, chock-full of zesty recipes from her kitchen.

“Claudia’s Cocina: A Taste of Mexico” boasts 65 mouthwatering recipes created by Claudia Sandoval, the September 2015 winner of Fox’s reality television cooking competition, “MasterChef.”

The book includes some of Sandoval’s favorite dishes, plus creations that helped her secure that “MasterChef” victory including

Hibiscus Poached Pears, Achiote Rubbed Pork Chops, Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken and the fan favorite, Tres Leches Cake.

The book also includes recipes inspired by Sandoval’s Mexican heritage, many from her family’s hometown of Mazatlan, Mexico, along with personal photos and anecdotes about the chef’s childhood and life experiences.

The amateur chef said she’s always been heavily-influenced by her cultural roots and her family. 

“Cooking is a way to connect to family. Cooking is love,” Sandoval told NBC 7 on Wednesday. 

An avid reader, Sandoval said she has long dreamed of writing her own book. Now, that telling of her culinary journey is very much a reality. 

“To say I’m published – it’s so surreal,” she said. “This book is so special to me. It has many of my food memories – those memories linked to dishes; recipes I grew up with.”

On Tuesday, celebrity chef and “MasterChef” judge Gordon Ramsay congratulated Sandoval on her book via social media, which only added to Sandoval’s enthusiasm.

As a home cook, Sandoval said her goal was to create a book of “elevated” meals that could be easily recreated at home. She said her book also touches on cooking basics so amateur chefs can feel comfortable in the kitchen.

Of the dozens of recipes, Sandoval said there are a few that are particularly popular right now with her family members, including her 10-year-old daughter.

For family parties, Sandoval often whips up Spicy Shrimp Ceviche, aka Aguachile, a dish she said takes five minutes to make. For a sweet treat, Sandoval said her daughter often asks for Arroz Con Leche rice balls – a concoction she whipped up on the fly while competing on “MasterChef.” 

Sandoval, who now lives in south San Diego near National City, where she grew up, will spend the next several months on a tour across the country promoting her cookbook.

In November, she’ll set sail to the Caribbean on the MasterChef Cruise, a cruise featuring “MasterChef” alums and fans, complete with cooking demos and “Mystery Box” challenges.

But despite her jet-setting schedule, Sandoval said she plans to stay rooted in San Diego and its thriving food scene.

“It’s exciting to see this Baja-Cali mix [of restaurants] coming together in San Diego,” she said. “San Diego is definitely a changing food scene – growing and expanding. I’m excited for what’s to come.”

Sandoval said she’s eyeing the possibility of opening a restaurant in San Diego in the coming years, perhaps once things slow down and she has more time to dedicate to the endeavor. She said her concept will be “something different” and said she’s a huge supporter of bringing more Mexican cuisine to America’s Finest City.

“I want more real Mexican food in San Diego,” she said with a laugh.

To learn more about Sandoval or to order her book, visit her website.

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