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"My philosophy is to have a good experience in a restaurant, starting with the hostess, then the food, and always feeling like you are taken care of."

Congratulatory note: Baja! Cooking on the Edge by local chef Deborah Schneider (currently food-boss at the Del Mar Racetrack) was named by Food and Wine Magazine as one of its top 25 cookbooks of the year. The book fully deserves the accolade: It's a superb cookbook full of in-depth regional detail. Even if you don't want to try cooking Baja-style (the recipes are awesomely well researched), if you plan to travel in Baja, you'll learn what to eat there, where and why, right down to which taco stand to seek out at the north (nontouristy) end of Rosarito. Plus, Schneider brings her wicked sense of humor to the prose. (The section describing various chiles had me LOL.) Way to go, Deb! Also a note of gossip: Last chance for fans of Amiko Gubbins's cuisine to enjoy her unique creations at Parallel 33. She's handing the reins to another chef in June so that she can "explore other options."

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