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In Mexico, where I grew up, women rule the kitchen. They control everything that happens; they hold the power. I had a lot of female role models around me as a kid, but my aunt Marcela Rodriguez was the strongest. When she was only 26, she opened Artes Culinarias Internacionales, one of the first culinary schools in Baja. She started with six students and built up to 800. One summer, when I was on break from architecture school in Tijuana, my aunt gave me a summer job cleaning up and peeling garlic, and I got to see her in her element. She was so passionate and such a good teacher, I decided to quit architecture school and go to culinary school in Los Angeles. My aunt was so inspiring—she would go to the market, get busy in the kitchen and then, all of a sudden, there’d be a beautiful, peppercorn-crusted prime rib on the table.—As told to Kate Krader