Daniela Soto-Innes is a 28-year-old chef who’s on top of the world right now. The Mexican cook just got named the World’s Best Female Chef and also recently got engaged. You may not know Soto-Innes but if you have traveled to Houston, New York City, or Mexico City — chances are you probably have eaten her incredible Mexican cuisines. Her food has garnered the attention of just about everyone, including former President Barack Obama who ate at her Mexican restaurant in Manhattan called Cosme.
The title of World’s Best Female Chef is a little ridiculous considering there’s no “Best Male Chef” award, so we’re taking Soto-Innes’s title and saying, she’s the best in the business, period. This great achievement is not something that happened overnight either. The young chef has been inching herself toward the very top for several years now. In 2015, Soto-Innes won the StarChefs Rising Stars Award, and in 2016 got the distinguished James Beard Award for”Rising Star Chef.”
What makes Soto-Innes stand out from all the rest, is not just her age or her awards, but her passion for food, her down to earth charm, and the heartfelt ways she stays true to her roots. Soto-Innes said the reason why her food is so good is that she puts love and happiness in everything she creates. It’s a lesson her grandmother taught her.
“You have to be happy when you’re making a mole or tamales – otherwise they won’t turn out,” she said in a recent interview. “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 school for cooking. 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. What drew me to cooking was personalities and people and the story behind why they were cooking what they were cooking, more than the actual environment of the kitchen, which I didn’t like.”
When she was 12, she moved to the U.S. and began her culinary career. She got various internships, studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin and has been all over the world honing her skills. It’s that passion for food that has made her thrive in the business because for her there’s nothing else that matters.
“My whole life, every single paycheck I’ve ever received has come from cooking,” she said in an interview with The Cut. “I don’t know how to work for another reason.”
So at 28, she’s already opened a slew of restaurants, with more on the way, but for now, she’s perfectly happy basking in this new moment of being engaged to Blaine Wetzel, who of course, is a chef.
“Ever since I met Blaine, I’m a lot happier,” she said. “The dishes taste better. I’m more inspired.”