{ PERSON OF INTEREST }

Culinary Conduit

Chef and gastronomic entrepreneur Flor Franco cooks up a community of food and wine enthusiasts

By Wendy Lemlin 
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You might call Flor Franco a culinary Renaissance woman. Chef, caterer, event planner, business and restaurant owner, mentor, promoter, and conduit of professional relationships, Flor is a whirling dervish of activity. She tirelessly gives her time and expertise to numerous charitable organizations, helps forge professional relationships among all the segments of the local food community, and promotes cross-border culinary experiences.

To name just a few of her honors, Flor has been the Culinary Director of the Berry Good Foundation and their invitation-only annual Berry Good Night Dinners (arguably the San Diego foodie community’s most coveted invitation) since its inception five years ago. She is also Culinary Director of the yearly Chef Throwdown to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and Honorary Chairperson of the Chef 

Showdown sponsored by the Center for Community Services. This year, Flor was named Vice President for Mexico of Les Dames D’Escoffier International, a world-wide, philanthropic society of professional female leaders in the fields of food, fine beverage and hospitality. She is like a best-selling book with many chapters—there’s always a new and exciting twist on the common thread that ties the whole narrative together. That narrative is food, locally sourced and sustainably produced, and the community of people involved in its appreciation.

Born in Veracruz, Mexico, and a San Diego resident for more than 24 years, Flor transitioned from a career in marketing and public relations nine years ago to turning her considerable talent in the kitchen into Indulge Contemporary Catering. As the name implies, Indulge has been known from the start for its very up-to-the-minute approach to premium quality cuisine.

Flor notes, “Soon, I became interested in how and where our food is grown and produced, and began shifting my focus with Indulge to events which centered on using sustainable local products. I started working closely with area family farmers, ranchers and fishmongers, got to know the winemakers in Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe, and cooked alongside the best chefs on both sides of the border. In the process, I introduced many of these people to each other, and I realized that that was probably my most important contribution.

“Now, Indulge Eat Drink Travel is the company’s new iteration, with the focus of helping to lead our community in embracing our food relationships and to facilitate the interaction of players from the different segments of the industry to work together on shared goals. In the process, some pretty amazing food is made that not only tastes good, but IS good—healthy, local and sustainable. We’re creating events at which San Diego and Baja chefs and food producers work cooperatively for everyone’s mutual benefit, especially the diners’[sic] benefit. We provide upscale tours to the Valle de Guadalupe for groups of two to 24 to enjoy the wines, food and tranquil ambience of the area, as well as hands-on activities like cooking classes, and farm and vineyard visits.”

As if all that weren’t enough, Flor has recently launched Mise En Place Public Relations & Consulting. Working with clients in the food and beverage industry exclusively, Mise En Place goes beyond marketing and PR and includes a team of industry experts to consult with clients on anything from menu creation to sourcing the best products to wine pairings.

“I want to bring attention to the level of excellence San Diego’s culinary scene continues to attain in terms of food quality and products available,” Flor speaks seriously. “As someone with my feet on both sides of the border, I am beyond proud of the international attention currently being paid to Baja regional chefs and cuisine. When I look to San Diego, my home for all my adult life, and where I’ve raised my three kids, I would love to see the same love and recognition paid to the amazing local chefs right here in San Diego. Whatever I can do to help make that happen, I will.”