A Young Chef Lost, Tragedy Close to Home

This photo was taken by noted photographer, Josue Castro, who is well-known for his black and white portraits of talented chef personalities.

I’ve worked with many chefs in my day in this food industry. One of the greatest parts of my job is the opportunity to watch the trajectory of chefs and observe their passion and desire for the mastery of the culinary arts. At the same time, I have been witness to the deterioration of chefs by the most powerful pressure; vanity.

Tonight, I write this with the most raw, fresh pangs of disdain and profound confusion. A bright young man I have had the pleasure of working closely with and who just now has been getting comfortable taking the lead in his creativity and role as a young executive chef, is no longer with us.

Chef Jonathan Casas Aguëro was a flourishing, new chef whose name has been on the lips of notable chefs and restaurateurs for the last year. He has been honing his creativity as the Executive Chef of Viaje Cocina del Mundo in Rosarito, Baja California and has been receiving great praise for his work. Today, I received news of his death and was in denial thinking it must have been a mistake. Then my phone rang.

Chef Jonathan was from Zacatecas, Mexico and would have been 26 in a few short weeks.

Jonathan had an inquisitive, sharp mind whirring with ambition to create the delicious, the beautiful and the playful with his food. After studying and working in Monaco and under the watchful eye of mentor, Chef Marcelo Hisaki, he rose to the rank of Executive Chef at the newest project of San Diego and now Baja restaurateur, Jerôme Gombert. Jonathan admired the legacies of the local, Baja chefs and was looking forward to adding to the story of Baja Norte’s food region.

There was an ease and humble confidence about him that was pleasing but what really endeared one to him was his brilliant kindness. He quietly and superbly was a grateful human being of boundless generosity of spirit. It was a pleasure to know and collaborate with Jonathon on our Supper Club concepts because his exuberance for his work was contagious.

The tragedy of this bright, young chef hits home today as I ponder the a life taken by senseless violence in Rosarito, Baja California. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family. We are all at a great loss.

Thank you, Chef, for the culinary adventure. Bonne nuit, mon ami.

5 Comments

    1. I am so sorry for the loss to your family. He was a well-loved chef here and left his positive mark on many by being a wonderful example of pride, humility, passion and dedication.

  1. My wife and I had the luck and pleasure to enjoy some of Jonathan’s brilliance at Viaje earlier this year. This is truly saddening and tragic news. Whoever perpetuated this heinous act needs to be brought to justice!

    1. I fear in Rosarito justice is hidden away very well for cases such as these. It was very nice to recently see one of Jonatan’s wishes come true. He brought together the Chefs of Rosarito to discuss the founding of the Association of Chefs. It has come to fruition and together the chefs have been able to bring more attention to the growing food scene in the area.

      His wish was to make people aware that there was a reason to stop and enjoy dining options in Rosarito… not just pass through on the way to Ensenada or Valle de Guadalupe. Cheers!