2015 New York Rising Star Chef Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme

2015 New York Rising Star Chef Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme
February 2015

Daniela Soto-Innes comes from a long line of women who love food and cooking. And visiting the food markets and restaurants of Mexico City as a child only stoked her curiosity further. By the time she was 14, Soto-Innes was ready to work.

She started as an intern with Marriott Hotels, a position which turned into a job that lasted through high school and landed her in Austin at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott. Soto-Innes stayed there for three years, building up her skill set in the context of a professional restaurant. Looking for some serious training, Soto-Innes moved to Austin, Texas, where she graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. From there, it was all about exploration. She traveled and staged at restaurants in Texas, New York, and Europe, finally returning to Texas to stage at Mark's Restaurant with Chef Mark Cox. Later, she joined the opening crew of Brennan's of Houston under Chef Danny Trace, where she met mentor Bobby Matos, and rotated around the kitchen and helped develop the restaurant’s tasting menus. Two years later, Soto-Innes continued exploring, at progressive American restaurant Triniti and charcuterie-driven Underbelly with Chef Chris Shepherd.

A stage at Pujol found Soto-Innes back in Mexico. When that ended she worked under Gerardo Vazques Lugo owner of Nicos in Mexico city, one of Soto-Innes’ most inspiring mentors. Lugo helped her to figure out her own path and plan. That led Soto-Innes back to Pujol for a full-time position working alongside culinary icon Enrique Olvera—whom she also counts a mentor. When Olvera was looking to bring his operation to New York City, he tapped Soto-Innes as opening chef de cuisine. Now at the helm of Cosme, Soto-Innes works on menu development with Olvera and kitchen management with fellow chef de cuisine Mariana Villegas, never forgetting the inspiration, or cooking lineage, that came before.

Interview with New York Rising Star Chef Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme

Mary Choi: How did you get your start?
Daniela Soto-Innes:
I come from a family that has cooked their whole lives. My great grandma owned a bakery and I always cooked with her. I’m the youngest of three sisters and my mom always wanted to be a chef, but her parents wanted her to be a lawyer, so I followed her to cooking classes.

I went to high school and did a culinary program. When I was 15, I started staging with Bobby Price, then I moved to Austin and went to culinary school there. Then I traveled all over Europe, made cheese in Switzerland, and then I worked at Brennan’s Houston for two years. I worked there because I really wanted to get my butt kicked in order to learn how to work fast and efficiently with mean French chefs while dealing with the high volume. Then I moved to Triniti as sous. After that I worked at Underbelly with Chris Shepherd. I learned how to put my head down and work as much as you can and never stop.

I met Enrique Olvera at an event with Alex Stupak. I wanted to stage at Pujol for a week, but I ended up working there for six months. Eventually, I went back to Texas and thought I needed to go back to Mexico. I learned how to butcher and had the opportunity to come to New York and it’s been exciting and crazy.

MC: Who's your mentor?
Chris Shepherd, Enrique Olvera, and Bobby Price.

MC: How are you involved in the local culinary community?
Well, I’ve been in Cosme the entire time. All our veggies are from the farmers markets and we try as much as possible to get produce from local farmers. We just want our diners to feel comfortable and taken care of. Our biggest thing is to have fun, if the ladies aren’t having fun, I tell them that the tamales will suffer. We had an issue, the tamales would come out uncooked in the middle, and so, we thought it was the attitude, with a great attitude the great tamales will come.

MC: What's the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
Not knowing anyone and starting from zero, just doing research about everything on my own.  

MC: What's your five year plan?
I see myself in the works of opening a bar. I’ve opened 5 restaurants, and I know how difficult it is to fund. I love drinks and everything about their development process. I love Austin. I love the music, and people are very friendly. I love everything about it. I want to open a bar with food in Austin, because, Texas for me, it should be showcased more.