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The curtain has fallen on yet another exciting edition of the annual World's 50 Best Restaurants award ceremony. But not before crowning a new winner and giving the stage to award recipients addressing the assembled audience of chefs and industry professionals with some thought provoking words.
One of the most effervescent and inspirational speeches of the night belonged to Daniela Soto-Innes, when she bounced onto the stage to collect her award for World's Best Female Chef 2019, with some powerful words about kitchen culture.
The Mexican chef from Cosme in New York, managed to put her nerves aside and recall how she found her love of cooking as a child growing up in the kitchen polishing her great grandmother's pots and spoons, talking baking and cooking and surrounded by joy.
From her disillusionment at the joyless kitchens she found upon entering the profession to the importance of nurturing a culture of of acceptance and happines, here's a taster of what she had to say.
On the industry ...
I started cooking professionally because I thought I could use this sparkling personality in the kitchen. But soon I found out that happiness and good energy were not the standard in any of the kitchens in which I worked.
I quickly realised the hospitality field was sometimes, if not most of the time, the least hospitable place to work in. That although chefs were making their guests happy and they were making amazing memories, they were doing the opposite to their teams. I was very disappointed.
I decided if I ever run my own kitchen it would be more like the kitchens I grew up in, full of joy, happiness and community. I promised myself that I’d create an environment that could be as pleasant for the person developing the idea to the person receiving it. I didn’t think happiness at the front of house doesn’t meant misery in the back.
On leadership ...
The role of the chef is a leader. Balance and team builder. Someone who seeks to inspire by learning something new with their team every day.
A chef is not only the one who cooks writes menu or develps recipes but the one that listens to their team, takes care of them and learns how to treat each person individually so they can fulfill their highest potential and achieve a style of their own. At the end of the day it’s about values. Not letting our craft forget that we were not born with it. We developed it with someone or somwhere that we encountered. With discipline communication and grace we can inspire the success of an individual.
On changing kitchen culture ...
As a Mexican woman leading a diverse team, I believe with every day, with every meal, with every guest, we can fight against the ignorance and prejudice which tells us that our voices should not be heard.that our happiness and dreams do not matter.
Not only does happiness matter but we can spread it Not only do dreams matter but we can make them come true!
See Daniela's speech in full below: