If you’ve ever met Claudia Johnson, you have likely been inspired. Being one of four partners behind St. Petersburg’s authentic Mexican restaurant, Grand Hacienda, she is truly unforgettable. Her life has been one that few could imagine. And her passion for Mexican culture, heritage, and cuisine goes far beyond what you might expect. But it is precisely this passion that drives Grand Hacienda’s success in satisfying the most discriminating of palates and lovers of traditional Mexican fare.
Claudia’s vision for Grand Hacienda has always sought to provide customers with fresh, authentic Mexican dishes immersed within a traditional Mexico-like atmosphere. But her depth of knowledge and international experience in the culinary arts may not be immediately apparent as you enter the mission style building. In addition to studying in a number of European countries, Claudia’s culinary insights are extensive as a result of travel as well as heritage. And it’s the reason visiting Grand Hacienda is an absolute must for anyone who loves incredible food.
Embracing Her Mexican Culture
Growing up in Mexico, Claudia Johnson appreciates many of the unique gifts that Mexican culture offers when it comes to cuisine. For Mexican families, the kitchen is the center of the home where the entire family comes together to share, bond, and, of course, cook. As a young girl, Claudia learned at an early age about longstanding Mexican culinary traditions. As a rite of passage, she would advance in her cooking talents eventually preparing the most authentic of meals for the entire family. It was truly where her love and passion for cooking began.
Unlike other cultures, Mexican households are multigenerational. Grandparents, parents, children, and even grandchildren often share a home. The advantage of this from a culinary standpoint is the opportunity for traditional Mexican recipes to be handed down from one generation to the next. And the stories and unique insights behind these traditional meals are also taught along the way. In this way, Claudia connects Mexican foods with her culture as well as her heritage. And because of this, you can enjoy some of the most authentic Mexican cuisine around when visiting Grand Hacienda.
Embracing Culinary Opportunities Abroad
Most restaurant owners do not have a history that comes close to Claudia Johnson’s life experiences. After completing college in Mexico City and attaining her accounting degree, she worked for some of the most powerful companies in the world. These included large accounting firms like Arthur Andersen as well as international pharmaceutical conglomerates. In fact, she attained an executive level position handling business development as well as international mergers and acquisitions before she was even 30 years of age! In an era when women rarely broke the glass ceiling of success, Claudia smashed it in.
While Claudia excelled in these top-level finance positions, she took the opportunity to also further satisfy her passion for cooking. Whenever she would travel abroad, she would take extensive courses in the culinary arts. She studies in Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom as well as in other countries as a result. Through these experiences, she gained an even deeper appreciation for the various cultural influences on Mexico’s cuisine over the centuries. And today, these experiences provide her with the talents to create exceptional culinary experiences for her guests.
Embracing Her Deepest Passion
After walking away from corporate life, Claudia Johnson relocated to Florida’s west coast. Having been a frequent visitor here for many years, she and her family established roots here as well. But after being away from her corporate career distractions, Claudia soon found herself drawn to the kitchen once again. Before she knew it, neighbors, caterers, and shop owners were asking if she would bake some of her delicious treats for them. What started out as simply a personal passion quickly grew into a community-wide appreciation of her culinary skills.
Claudia ultimately embraced her passion for Mexican cuisine and the culinary arts. She opened a small bakery and pastry shop in Sarasota hoping people would like her offerings. To her amazement, she had over 300 customers the first day! The rest is history. The ability to do what she loves, and the positive feedback she received, encouraged Claudia to pursue this passion further. And it was this that inspired her vision of an authentic Mexican restaurant that truly honored Mexico’s heritage and culture. That vision has been realized in Grand Hacienda.
Something for Everyone at Grand Hacienda
When you visit Grand Hacienda, you will be amazed at the fresh and authentic Mexican flavors and aromas that entice your senses. But at the same time, Grand Hacienda offers other cuisines to please any palate. Whether breakfast, lunch or dinner, Grand Hacienda has an array of delicious offerings that are certain to satisfy. And behind each one is Claudia Johnson’s passion for food. Come visit Grand Hacienda today for a culinary experience you will never forget. And if you have the chance to meet Claudia Johnson, get ready to be inspired!