Valladolid was born in San Diego, California. Her interest in pursuing a career as a chef was sparked when she began working at her aunt Marcela's cooking school in Tijuana, Mexico. Valladolid graduated from the Los Angeles Culinary Institute as a "Certified cook" and then moved to Paris, France, where she graduated as a classically trained pastry chef at the Ritz Escoffier Cooking School.
She then returned to Tijuana and started her own catering company and taught cooking techniques to classes of 40 students out of her home there.
Valladolid joined the staff of Bon Appétit magazine as an editor and recipe stylist. She also competed on the 2005 series The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, in which she came in fourth place.
Valladolid's first cooking show was "Relatos con Sabor" on Discovery en Español which aired in the U.S. and Latin America. In the series, she showed viewers how local Hispanic homes preserve and revive traditional recipes.
Valladolid's second cooking show, "Mexican Made Easy", debuted in January 2010 on Food Network. Her second cookbook, Mexican Made Easy, was released in September 2011 as a companion book to her show. Both Valladolid's book and the show, filmed in San Diego, California, were designed to show the world there is no "yellow cheese" in traditional Mexican cooking and that her Mexican culinary style can be done with "fresh flavor that fits all."
Valladolid has also appeared in other Food Network shows. On Throwdown! with Bobby Flay she was a judge for a fish taco-themed competition. She and Flay teamed up to defeat Masaharu Morimoto and teammate Andrew Zimmern on a New Year's edition of Iron Chef America in 2012. Also in 2012, she competed in a celebrity version of Chopped in which she advanced to the final round and finished second (out of four competitors). In 2013, she served as a judge on Guy's Grocery Games.
In January 2014, Marcela debuted as one of the co-hosts on Food Network's new show The Kitchen.
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