Bonding and Boarding in Baja California

Sam Trude, co-owner of Venice Beach hot spot Gran Blanco, took off with his team for a freewheeling itinerary of sunshine, sashimi and sustainability



Video by Brecht Van’t Hof.


My business partner, Sam Cooper; our chef, Juan Ferreiro; our beverage manager, Jaxon Dobson; and I have all spent quite a bit of time in Baja exploring, surfing and eating, but this past summer, when we had the opportunity to visit James Arthur Smith’s Omega Blue sustainable fish farm (he supplies our kanpachi), we decided to take an extended R&D trip along the coastline. We like knowing the story of our ingredients, so we wanted to see the process.


Cabo is a bustling mess, so as soon as we landed we started driving north toward Todos Santos, stopping along the way at two pretty great farm-to-table restaurants, Flora’s Field Kitchen and Acre, where we met the chefs and had nice meals.

Hotel San Cristóbal is a really cool hotel right on the beach by Bunkhouse Group, and just south of there are some amazing biodynamic restaurants. Carlito’s Place is this little shack with an interesting backstory — the chef/owner, Carlos Cham, worked at Matsuhisa and Nobu for a long time before deciding to return to Baja where he spearfishes every day and makes amazing sushi and sashimi on the beach with whatever he brings in. We checked out the locally grown coffee at Baja Beans Coffee after catching some waves at Cerritos, a beautiful right, and Hierbabuena in Pescadero, where the menu changes daily based on the produce they collect on the farm. Close to there, a friend of ours is building an exciting little eco resort called El Perdido with bungalows made from local wood.



We harvested two fish from the farm, ate beautiful sashimi and swam with eagle rays

Sam Trude


The next day we drove to La Paz with James to visit the Omega Blue hatchery on land, where they actually do the breeding. The hatchlings are born there and grow a couple months before being pumped onto a boat to be taken to the offshore sea pens where they get organic feed for two years. We went diving around the pens, and there were heaps of sea lions and dolphins out, too. The little sea lions were really curious, doing circles around us.

We harvested two fish from the farm and took the boat to Espíritu Santo Island in the gulf, where Juan filleted them and did a simple, beautiful sashimi with citrus as we hung out and swam with the eagle rays. I’ve never eaten so much sashimi in my life.


Following that, we drove down the East Cape — it’s really pretty and super remote, with nothing there except for some amazing and uncrowded surf along the way. We visited a new development called Costa Palmas — it’s incredible. The Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas is opening there in October and next up is Amanvari. We went out on one of their boats for some fun wakesurfing and toured the marina project.


We pulled off the empty two-lane dirt road back to Los Cabos to look at some little purveyors to see if we could source some interesting clay flatware and bowls for the restaurant. They had great stuff. Before flying out, we overnighted at Viceroy Los Cabos. Everything came full circle when we got back to Gran Blanco the next day and the Omega Blue truck pulled up with our fresh fish on ice.





From left: The Mission Workshop The Rhake WX weatherproof laptop backpack ($455) is a carryall crafted from a durable Fairfield Textile waxed canvas fabric. An ultralight sleeping bag, the Patagonia 850 down sleeping bag (from $479) is perfect for even the coldest conditions.


The water-repellent Filson Rugged twill compact rod case ($375) can hold two 9-foot, four-piece fly rods in their tubes.


Feature image: JAMES ARTHUR SMITH (left) and SAM TRUDE checking out the day’s catches. All photos by Brecht Van’t Hof.


This story originally appeared in the Fall/Winter Men’s Edition of C Magazine.

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