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Chef Claudia Albertina Ruiz Sántiz receives the state award. Chef Claudia Albertina Ruiz Sántiz receives the state award. Twitter @SEIGEN_CHIS

Ground-breaking indigenous chef recognized by state of Chiapas

The Tzotzil chef said she leapt over social hurdles to achieve success

An indigenous Tzotzil chef from Chiapas received an award on Thursday for her culinary work promoting regional cuisine.

Claudia Albertina Ruiz Sántiz received the Del Corazón a la Tierra (From the Heart to the Earth) award from the state government on Thursday, which recognizes the success of indigenous women and women of African heritage.

Ruiz has carved her own path through her career. She was the first indigenous woman to enter the school of gastronomy at the Chiapas University of Sciences and Arts and then became the first indigenous woman to work at Pujol, the world-renowned restaurant of chef Enrique Olvera in Mexico City. Last year, Ruiz was recognized by the 50 Next, a list that celebrates 50 young people around the world who are “changing the world of gastronomy in unique and interesting ways,” compiled by the culinary reviews site The World’s 50 Best.

In 2016 Ruiz opened her own restaurant, Kokono, in San Cristóbal de las Casas. The restaurant serves traditional Chiapas dishes and promotes indigenous culture. Its name comes from the Tzotzil translation for the Mexican herb epazote.

Ruiz said that her success had come against all odds. “There were three things that prevented me from achieving my dreams: being a woman, being indigenous and being young … unfortunately society thinks that we as young people, as women and as indigenous people do not have the capabilities and skills to achieve great goals,” she said.

Governor Rutilio Escandón Cadenas and the mayor of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mariano Díaz Ochoa, presented the award on Thursday. “We are very proud of you chef Claudia, because your career has promoted the name of Chiapas internationally … Through your restaurant Kokono indigenous gastronomy is exalted, and it’s a tourist attraction for San Cristóbal de Las Casas. International visitors and visitors from other states of the Mexican republic come exclusively for the culinary art of chef Claudia … it’s an honor to receive you and for you to represent Tzotzil culture,” Díaz said.

With reports from Diario de Chiapas

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