Meet The 28-Year-Old Mexican Woman Who Has Just Been Named Best Chef In The World
Mexican-born New York chef Daniela Soto-Innes has just been named the world’s best female chef at the age of 28. Soto-Innes, who also runs the kitchens at New York City’s Mexican restaurants Cosme and Atla, was given the award by the group, World’s 50 Best Restaurants. The award, which was announced on April 24, recognizes the achievements of one woman every year. The honor is extra special this time around since Soto-Iness will become the youngest woman to ever win the award.
She is being celebrated for her authenticity to Mexican food and creating a welcoming culture in her kitchen.
Soto-Innes has been celebrated for her culinary skills before. She helped Cosme win Eater NY’s Restaurant of the Year in 2015 and the James Beard Rising Star Chef award in 2016, at the age of 25. The group praised Soto-Iness for excelling in a male-dominated industry while overseeing a predominant female kitchen.
“She thrives on empowering her staff and treating every personality differently, and says her relative youth is something to embrace rather than feel ashamed of,” the group said. “In an industry dominated by men, she also runs a kitchen that is two-thirds made up by women.”
The 28-year-old chef has also been a leader when it comes to giving opportunities to young chefs like herself. The group notes that Soto-Innes has been giving job opportunities to mostly immigrant cooks ranging in age from 20 to 65. It’s this thought and consideration that have made her kitchens a welcoming and diverse culture to thrive in.
Soto-Innes got much of her inspiration from her native home in Mexico City where she lived until the age of 12 before coming to the U.S.
Though she is known for her success in the culinary world, it wasn’t always this easy for her. Soto-Innes moved from Mexico City to the U.S. when she was 12 and was a competitive swimmer during her young adulthood in Texas. Shortly after she began her culinary career. She got various internships, studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin and traveled to hone her skills.
“My whole life, every single paycheck I’ve ever received has come from cooking,” she said in an interview with The Cut. “I don’t know how to work for another reason.”.
Soto-Innes credits family as a big influence in her life and the many lessons she’s learned in life can be credited to them. Dishes like ceviche and mole, which are favorites at her restaurant, are significant to her because it reminds her of family and love for cooking.
“I grew up with a line of really strong women that love to cook,” Soto-Innes told The World’s Best 50 Restaurants. “When I was born, my mother was a lawyer with my father, but she wanted to be a chef because my grandma had a bakery and my great grandma went to school for cooking. Everything was about who made the best cake, who made the best ceviche, who made the best mole. I just knew that it was the thing that made me the happiest.”
She is leading the way for not only women chefs but for many in the culinary world that want to be noticed.
Soto-Innes has plans to open two new restaurants in Los Angeles, Damian, a Japanese-influenced Mexican restaurant, and Ditroit, a taquería, are expected to open later this year. But despite all the accolades and new ventures in her life, one thing has never changed: staying true to her roots.
“What ignites my passion as a chef is people,” Soto-Iness said in a video. “I believe that what drew me to cooking was personalities and people, and the story behind why they were cooking what they were cooking… Real Mexican food, for me, is that it has to have happiness and spice, and it has to be fun. It can’t be too serious when you make Mexican food.”