“As a Mexican woman… I believe that every day and every meal, we can fight against ignorance. We can spread happiness. Not only do dreams matter but we can make them come true.”
She is not just alluringly beautiful with her enviably thick mane of glossy hair, enough to rival that of a shampoo commercial model, but marvellously talented and unassuming as well.
Wunderkind Daniela Soto-Innes was previously best known as a protégée of Enrique Olvera from Pujol. When Olvera opened Cosme in New York in 2014, he made Soto-Innes chef de cuisine. In 2016, she won a Rising Star Award from the prestigious James Beard Foundation. She was only 25 years of age then.
Today, the 28-year-old Mexican chef is the youngest winner of The World’s Best Female Chef Award, helming a multicultural kitchen where two thirds of the staff are female.
The 28-year-old, who grew up in Houston, Texas, feels that it is imperative to keep a happy team of staff from across the globe, as they are pivotal in imparting her phenomenal modern Mexican-influenced cuisine.
One of her signature dishes, the crab infladitas (meaning inflated), is an interesting “mistake” that happens when a tortilla is fried. This fluffy tortilla is a hit at Cosme.
Once regarded as the domain of males, women are now making their voices resonate powerfully in the kitchen in a way that is liberating and empowering for all females. The restaurant kitchen is no longer a male bastion, but an open space where freedom of creative culinary expression is open to all.
One’s gender should not dictate one’s future in the kitchen. Or anywhere for that matter.
Despite the men who dominate the profession, and social norms that facilitate subordinate roles for women, the females in gastronomy are an inspiring force who are making waves across the globe.
Everyone needs to become more comfortable with the uncomfortable subject of diversity – it is a cultural imperative. It is about summoning personal courage to overcome chauvinist as well as racial barriers.
“I grew up with a line of really strong women that love to cook. 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. 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.”
Since young, she had been washing her grandmother’s pots. The kitchen was a place that she grew up in and is a place that she is going back to. Back in the days, Chef Daniela felt that most of the people especially females, didn’t have a voice in the kitchen. She told herself that if she ran her own kitchen, it would be one full of joy. She believes that the role of the chef is a leader. Someone who seeks to inspire. Someone who can inspire the successes of an individual. A chef is the one who listens to the team. At the end of the day, success in the kitchen is all about personal values, and the desire to grow together as a team.
Julia Child believed that all you needed to succeed in the kitchen was a sharp knife and courage. For Chef Daniela she believes all it takes is a dream and a hunger to achieve it.
As one of the last remaining male bastions in the white-collar world, the physically strenuous nature of the job, makes it tough to endure. And we salute the females who have the mettle to face the challenges of the kitchen.
We are grateful to these remarkable female chefs of today, for giving females a voice in the kitchen. The loudest statement a lady can make, is not by moving away from the kitchen, but back into the heat of it.