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Get to Know NYC's Most Innovative Chef

Daniela Soto-Innes won a James Beard Award at age 25, and she's not stopping there
Photos by Devon Knight for TT Content Studio

Innovation comes easily for Daniela Soto-Innes, the chef de cuisine at NYC’s Cosme and cofounder (along with Cosme’s Enrique Olvera) of its spin-off restaurant, Atla. Her menus are driven by a creative approach to Mexican fare that often builds upon her childhood memories of Mexico City, like the corn husk meringue that’s become one of the famed dishes at Cosme or the duck carnitas tacos that were named best in the city.

At 25, she won the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year.

However, it’s her career as a whole that’s made her legendary in the restaurant world. She started with a culinary internship at age 15, and by her early twenties had already spent time in notable kitchens including Underbelly and Pujol. At 25, she won the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year. Today, Soto-Innes continues to push boundaries in the culinary realm and beyond. We followed this talented young chef to see what a day in her life is like, from her morning routine to the Kenneth Cole shoes she wears all day.

An Early Start

“Every day tends to be different, but my day starts around 7 a.m. I work out until 9 or 9:30 and then head to work at Atla or Cosme,” Soto-Innes says. And that’s just the beginning: She usually arrives home at 1 a.m.

Dressed for Success

Left and Right: Twill Bomber Jacket, Center: Suede Cropped Bomber

For such an active day, Daniela wears clothes that move with her. To simplify her wardrobe, she sticks to a black color palette at work—and in her personal life. Daniela expresses her style with modern statement pieces, like the Suede Cropped Bomber from Kenneth Cole New York.

Fueling Up

Her breakfast of choice at Atla is the chia bowl, which is packed with nuts and dried fruit to give her energy that lasts all day.

All in the Details

Of course, a caffeine boost from Atla’s cafe con leche also helps. The artful touch of foamed coconut milk that tops the beverage is indicative of the attention to subtle detail that sets Atla’s menu apart. Daniela’s eye for beauty in food and drink extends to her style. “I always think about simplicity and beauty,” she says.

Innovation at Work

“I never forget what I need in order to be happy,” Daniela says. “That said, I incorporate that into the kitchen: music, friends, food and family.” These influences inspire her when experimenting in the kitchen.

Stylish Support

Photo: Kam Leather Sneakers

Staying comfortable through her time in the kitchen allows her to keep her focus on the food. That’s why Daniela wears Kenneth Cole’s Kam Leather Sneakers, a comfortable choice that also suits her sleek style both in the kitchen and out.

A Lifelong Passion

Daniela’s ease at work is built not just on her extensive training and experience, but a lifelong passion for food that started when she took her first cooking class at age four. Preparing a meal has become second nature.

Served with Love

Daniela’s passion comes through in every dish, as does her ability to reimagine traditional Mexican food. Like her arctic char with farmer’s cheese tostada that has become one of the signature dishes at Atla for its unusual pairing of flavor and texture. Daniela is always thinking of ways to bring new flavors to the menu—right now, she’s experimenting with yuzu, pears and apples. She also has no plans to slow down anytime soon. In the next five years, her plans include having even more restaurants . . . and maybe taking a vacation or two.

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