A 28-year-old Mexican chef who owns two restaurants in New York City has been named the world’s best female chef.
Daniela Soto Innes was awarded the title by organizers of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
The organization commended Soto, the youngest winner ever, for her “dynamic and inventive” cooking at the contemporary Mexican restaurants Comse and Atla.
Born in Mexico City and raised in Houston, Texas, she returned to her home turf to spend her formative years training under chef Enrique Olvera at the award-winning Pujol restaurant in Mexico City.
By 2014, Soto had settled in New York, where she and Olvera opened Cosme, promptly gaining the attention of local gastronomy fans.
Two years later she was given the Rising Star Award by the James Beard Foundation and this year she has been shortlisted for best chef.
At Cosme, the menu is anchored with Mexican flavors and traditions and includes dishes such as duck carnitas, barbacoa with shishito peppers, quelites, avocado and salsa, and corn husk meringue desserts.
Her second restaurant, Atla, is an all-day casual eatery that serves Mexican classics like huevos rancheros and quesadillas.
Soto and Olvera are now working on opening two new restaurants in Los Angeles later this year, a Japanese-influenced Mexican restaurant and a taquería.
“Both older talent and young talent deserve all the respect at all times, and we should be able to hear what has to be said,” she told World’s 50 Best in reference to her own youth.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been cooking 40 years or one year. There are cooks who weren’t even cooks when they joined me a year ago, and they’ve taught me a lot more than what I knew when I was 14.”
Soto said she hopes to inspire and support people of all ages, races and nationalities in becoming cooks.
“I grew up with a line of really strong women that love to cook. When I was born, my mother was a lawyer . . . but she wanted to be a chef because my grandma had a bakery and my great grandma went to cooking school. 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 said.
Soto wrote on Instagram that the award was “for the Cosme team, for my family, for Mexico. For the kick-ass women and men that give us their support!”
She will accept her award at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants presentation on June 25 in Singapore.