63Magazine profiles a rising star already establishing herself. Aged just 28, Daniela Soto-Innes became the youngest ever top chef to be awarded the title of “Best Female Chef” in 2019. Today, she's transforming the cuisine of her forefathers and adding her uniquely charismatic, contemporary touch.
Daniela Soto-Innes rocks the scene for Mexican cuisine in New York. The top chef not only cooks up just any modern US variation of Mexican specialties. She dares to deliver an innovative interpretation of her Mexican forefathers’ cuisine with its unique spices and traditions – as well as with local and seasonal produce from the Hudson Valley and surrounding area. She calls it “Another state of Mexico.” This form of cooking would probably not even be possible without border crossings and the mixture of world cultures in the city that never sleeps. What is for sure is that under the leadership of Soto-Innes, the Cosme team in the Flatiron District, who are primarily immigrants from Latin America and all over the globe, conjure up Mexican-inspired dishes that are among the best in the world. “It is that mix of people, ideas, and recipes that brings the restaurant its success,” says the top chef. Of course, it has also been named in the Michelin Guide NYC 2020.
Image: The New Yorker was named “Best Female Chef 2019” and is transforming Mexican cuisine with her innovative, fresh approach.
"My greatest passion is not just cooking, but rather working in a team and the chance to give everyone an opportunity to find their own path and express themselves."
Daniela Soto-Innes was twelve years old when she moved with her parents from Mexico City to Texas. And even though up until the age of 20 she demonstrated her strength and ambition as a competitive swimmer, the subject of the culinary arts and delicacies was ubiquitous in their home: “I grew up with many strong women who love to cook,” explains Soto-Innes. “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 cooking school. At our place it was all about who baked the best cake, served the best ceviche, or prepared the best mole. I just knew: this is what makes me happiest.”
Daniela Soto-Innes is convinced that emotion, spice, and an irrepressible lust for life go hand in hand in Mexican culinary culture. Her expert tip: “If you want to prepare mole or tamales, you need to be happy – otherwise it will never turn out right.”
And this feisty female has no intention of resting on her laurels and awards – as well as the Best Female Chef, these include the renowned Rising Star Award from the James Beard Foundation. In addition to Cosme, she also opened ATLA in New York together with Enrique Olvera.
As a next step, the pair want to bring their culinary expertise to Los Angeles with the new location “Damian.” There, the aim is for Mexican tradition to fuse with Japanese inspiration. And even during lockdown, Soto-Innes has by no means been taking it easy. Naturally, the fundraising project from the 50 best chefs in the world, which brings together everyday, quarantine-suitable top recipes in the e-cookbook Home Comforts, would not be complete without her legendary mole.
Image: A truly exceptional dessert – the corn husk meringue is the specialty of her New York restaurant Cosme.
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Photography | Maureen M. Evans | Raul Tovar | Fiamma Piacentini