2020 Grants Challenge

LA Plaza Cocina- the nation’s first museum and teaching kitchen dedicated to Mexican Cuisine

LA Plaza is creating the nation’s first museum dedicated to celebrating and educating visitors on Mexico’s culinary heritage, from its indigenous roots to contemporary interpretations. Through exhibitions, cooking classes, lectures, workshops, and culinary festivals, LA Plaza Cocina will pay tribute to your abuela’s salsa, share entrepreneur success stories, and uncover the science behind making perfect masa! We’ll honor Mexican history, art and culture in the kitchen, while creating a space for personal, familial and cultural exploration.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

Culinary Art School Tijuana

Hacienda Guadalupe Vinicola

Valle de Guadalupe

Pedro Poncelis Jr. Sommelier

Humberto Raygoza- The Chori-Man

Maite Gomez Rejon- Artbites

Jocelyn Ramirez- Todo Verde

Gilberto Cetina- Chichen Itza / Holbox

Oscar Ochoa- El Machete Salsas

Deysi Serrano- Milpa Grille

Bret and Lucy Thompson- Pez Cantina

Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu- La Casita Mexicana

Ricardo Ortega- Kernel of Truth Organics

El Molino Pujol- CDMX

Masala y Maiz- CDMX

Ivan Vasquez- Madre!

Dora Herrera- Yucas

Lopez Family- La Guelaguetza

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

LA Plaza Cocina is rooted in collaboration and will make the greatest impact by working with others. Programs and exhibits will include people from across the city, state, and even across the border to create a regular series of classes, demonstrations, and talks developed by and for chefs, food historians, restaurant owners, sommeliers, nutritionists, and foodies. LA Plaza Cocina programs include a long list of collaborators such as Sarah Portnoy, Latino Food Culture professor at USC, Maite Gomez-Rejon, chef and food anthropologist at UCLA and restaurants like Chichen Itza, Madre!, and tortilla producers, Kernel of Truth Organics in Boyle Heights. Our collaborators serve as domain experts, workshop instructors, and panel participants.

What is the need you’re responding to?

LA Plaza Cocina is a first-of-its-kind museum dedicated to the artistry, history and contemporary interpretations of the regional cuisines of Mexico. Food is one of the most treasured aspects of Mexican culture and serves as one of the country’s most important gifts to the world. Nowhere else in the world other than Mexico itself is the tradition of Mexican cooking so widely practiced and cherished than in Los Angeles. From individual households to catering trucks, to the growing number of Mexican restaurants, and local food festivals, LA is the undisputed Mexican food capital of the USA.

LA Plaza Cocina is intended to serve as a unique space where the many cuisines of Mexico can be studied, shared, and savored. It will serve as a gathering place where trained chefs, family cooks and all those interested in learning more and sharing their passion for Mexican cooking can meet to create, explore, learn, shop and savor.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

Latino roots are embedded in the fabric of Los Angeles. They are essential to understanding the city’s culture. Yet, even with a significant Latino population (48% of L.A. County), there was previously no museum to trace Latino history and achievements in Southern California until the opening of LA Plaza in 2011.

LA Plaza remains the only institution in the region that combines and honors Latino history, art, and culture. Our mission has resonated with the community and we have turned that original inspiration into impact. In 2019, LA Plaza welcomed more than 100,000 visitors and served 9,000 students through our free garden and culinary educational workshops. We’ve increased programs from 15 in 2011 to 85 last year. We are an admission-free museum providing quality events, elevating and celebrating L.A.’s rich Latino culture and heritage. LA Plaza is a trusted community brand, known for making the arts accessible to all while promoting cultural diversity and inclusivity.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 12,000

Indirect Impact: 36,000

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

LA Plaza promotes awareness, empowers individuals, builds pathways for diverse and equitable communities and helps those engaged to understand the world in which they live.

Located in the El Pueblo historic district, LA Plaza and partner organizations have breathed new economic and cultural life into the neighborhood, turning dilapidated buildings into the museum’s home, transforming an empty lot into an open-air meeting space with a stage, teaching garden, and historic walkway for public art. There are several historical landmarks nearby, LA Plaza brings these sites and the city’s rich history to life with coherence and authenticity. Most visitors are low to middle-income families from East, South East L.A. and the San Fernando Valley.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Opening LA Plaza Cocina has been a priority for LA Plaza since its inception. We have worked toward this for nearly a decade and are finally in a position to bring this project to fruition. The location, plans, and designs are in place, and the corresponding programming has a successful track record with a strong following.

LA Plaza Cocina’s goals are to:

- Complete construction and open to the public in Q1 2021.

- Create a unique, multi-disciplinary site where professionals and the general public alike

can explore the rich culinary treasures of Mexico

- Instill a greater understanding of the beneficial aspects of indigenous foods

- Empower women and minority-owned businesses engaged in Mexican cooking

- Create a space for personal, familial and cultural exploration.

- Increase interconnectedness among different populations and cultures.

- Inspire and educate individuals about the history, and influence of Mexican cuisine in Los Angeles, reaching a minimum of 40,000 people annually

- Increase families’ awareness of nutrition, culinary preparation, and the culture and history of food migration

We will measure the degree to which we achieve these goals, and therefore program success, through an increase in attendance and online engagement, demand for more culinary arts classes, and feedback from the community, both organically and through participant and visitor surveys. LA Plaza Cocina will be open to the public six days a week.

Which of the CREATE metrics will your submission impact?​

Arts establishments, instillations, and exhibitions

Global cultural and economic influence (“soft power”)

Minority- and women-owned businesses

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the best place to LEARN

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Host public events or gatherings

Communications support

Capacity, including staff

Strategy assistance and implementation