Growing up in Casablanca, Bo Bendana was warned that every girl had to learn how to cook or no one will marry her. “But I don’t want to get married!” 12-year-old Bo told her mother. In spite of her resistance, Bo’s mother taught her to cook. That early introduction to savory ingredients and exotic spices contributed to the success Chef Bo is enjoying in Mexico’s Baja California.
Her “Moroxican” (Moroccan-Mexican fusion) restaurant, Mi Casa Supper Club, with its airy Mediterranean-style décor and oceanfront location less than an hour’s drive from San Diego, is drawing patrons from both sides of the border for open-to-the-public dinners, private parties, and holiday festivals.
And her annual white-tie food and wine pairing celebration, Sabor de Baja, held at the famed Rosarito Beach Hotel, has celebrities like Sam the Cooking Guy jumping to be a part of it.
California transplant, Bo Bendana, is putting Baja cuisine on the foodie map.
Mi Casa Supper Club is born
In 2006, Bo Bendana and husband Dennis Sein moved from their home in Newport Beach, California to Rosarito Beach. Rosarito is just a short drive over the Mexican border on Baja peninsula. The first fledgling concept for Mi Casa began when Bo offered a dinner at her home for eight people to raise funds for the Boys and Girls Club. Much to her surprise, that dinner was sold for close to $1,000.
Friends urged her to open a restaurant, but Bo was not ready to take on such a major undertaking at that time. But those friends insured her that whenever she was willing to cook, they would come. So Bo and Dennis – a wine connoisseur and collector in his own right – started hosting gourmet dinners with food and wine pairing in their own home, once a month. The dinners were private; a membership card was necessary to gain admittance to the dinners.
The private suppers were wildly successful. The monthly menu would always include dishes that were not the most common, and guests were at first a little apprehensive…. rabbit, lamb, duck, escargot. Appetizers ranged from raw oysters to pumpkin mussel soup with toasted peanuts. The dishes were painstakingly prepared and paired with fine wines, and in the end, their guests raved about them and clamored for more.
Word of Bo’s Baja cuisine dinners eventually got out, and Bo suddenly found herself flooded with phone calls – many from outside Mexico and the United States – from people eager to snag an invitation to the home dinner parties. “I couldn’t do that,” said Bo. “They were strangers and this was where we lived with our two young children.”
[read the rest of Bo Bendana’s Moroxican Cuisine here].