Food & Wine
Elena Reygadas is the world's best female chef
Here, the Mexican chef talks about what cooking is really about, her commitment to gender equality, her top three ingredients, and the honour of being named "the world's best female chef".
"My interest in food was probably not a sudden revelation, but rather a passion that came to me over time. After all, cooking is an activity that requires great endurance and repetition."
And there has been a lot of repetition for Elena. Virtually all her life, since she's spent a lot of time in the kitchen with her grandmothers. It was they who taught her to follow recipes for the first time. For Elena, her time in the kitchen in her childhood was an excuse to be social and spend time with those she loves.
"I come from a big family, where we often used to get together to cook. This is how cooking became a way to spend time with my family and loved ones. I believe that cooking is about sharing."
The World's Best Chef
Her vision about sharing has already taken her far, from her education at the French Culinary Institute in New York to several years as a chef in London. She then returned to Mexico City, where she had two daughters and opened a restaurant in the Colonia Roma neighbourhood. And finally, the biggest highlight so far and the reason for her current success: the opening of her restaurant Rosetta in 2010.
It is the latter that has earned her the honorary title of the world's best female chef:
"She is behind one of Mexico City's most famous restaurants. Elena Reygadas has spent a long time reflecting on what the role of a chef should be in the 21st century. Her soul-searching has made her want to promote the importance of Mexico's biodiversity and its rich culture and menu at her flagship restaurant Rosetta, but she develops and pushes boundaries far beyond what a restaurant in the modern world can be," to quote the text of her appointment as "The world's best female chef 2023."
"The award is a great honour. It's also a recognition of the whole team that I work with every single day. I also think it's a recognition of all the Mexican women who cook every day," she says.
Wants to see more top female chefs
However, she believes that it should not be necessary for the title to include the word 'female' – even though the industry has paved the way for both genders in recent years. Something she thinks is very important.
"I think that in the kitchen, just as much as in society in general, there is still far too much inequality between women and men. Women have always been in charge in the kitchen, preserving our culinary traditions from generation to generation. But professional kitchens are still mostly managed by men", she says.
Elena points out that we must therefore focus on the fact that gender is not a decisive factor for professional development, and that in the future we must see more women at the forefront of the industry.
"I think this award can also help us shed light on the gender gap, and open paths towards greater justice, and also a fairer society."
Rosetta in Mexico City
Elena's restaurant Rosetta is located in a large mansion in the bohemian neighbourhood of Rome in Mexico City. A few meters away from the restaurant, she has also opened the bakery La Panadería de Rosetta. The bakery has become known for its craft techniques, slow fermentation, and sourdough. But it's the former that has earned her the world's best title.
Rosetta is inspired by Italian cuisine, with Mexican ingredients and techniques. The menu focuses heavily on plants and vegetables in season, from local producers.
Among her most famous dishes are kale taco with green pipián sauce, sweet potato ravioli with matcha sauce, hoja santa with white chocolate, and avocado sorbet with fermented plums.
A sustainable diet for everyone
The aforementioned ingredients also reflect Elena's identity as a chef. When asked to describe herself in the kitchen, she says:
"I'm a chef who is passionate about ingredients, and I'm like a medium that strives to communicate what ingredients can tell us. I am also someone who is committed to promoting a healthy and sustainable diet for all."
But there is never just one concrete answer as to what ingredients are needed to achieve this:
"My favourite ingredients are constantly changing. But right now, I'm particularly into avocado leaves and the two Mexican herbs epazote and hoja santa!"
If you want to dine with the world's best female chef, just book a trip to Mexico City and then go to the address Colima 166, Rome Nte., Cuauhtémoc.
The World’s Best Female Chef Award recognises an individual who has impressed critics and gourmets from around the world and it is part of 50 Best’s mission to honour and give a platform to female role models within the culinary industry. The accolade is voted for by the Academy, formed of 1,080 independent restaurant industry experts and well-travelled gourmets from across the world.
Elena Reygada's top five restaurants in Mexico:
La Cocina de Humo in Oaxaca
Alfonsina in Oaxaca
Xokol in Guadalajara
Macuitl Molino in Puebla
Tacos El Vilsito in Mexico City
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