Latin America’s Best Pastry Chef Award 2020

Latin America’s Best Pastry Chef Award 2020

Sofia Cortina

Mexico City, Mexico

The modern face of pastry and desserts eschews added sugar in favour of indigenous fruits and unfailing creativity

Sofia Cortina is a thoroughly modern and multi-faceted pastry chef. She’s been classically schooled in French patisserie, but is also unequivocally Mexican in her outlook and output. She has worked the pastry section in some of the world’s leading restaurant kitchens, but has also served front of house and developed a retail bakery. She creates indulgent cakes and éclairs, but is at the forefront of a movement to reduce sugar intake in her country’s diet.

These diverse elements are bound together by Cortina’s talent and dedication, which sees her named Latin America’s Best Pastry Chef 2020 – and all before she reaches the age of 30.

Like so many at the vanguard of Mexico’s contemporary culinary scene, Cortina owes much to her grounding at Enrique Olvera’s seminal restaurant, Pujol. She started there as a callow 18-year-old, where she was taken under the wing of pastry chef Alejandra Rivas, now business partner and wife of dessert genius Jordi Roca. After three years’ training across all disciplines, Cortina moved to Europe to broaden her gastronomic horizons, taking in stints at Dos Palillos in Barcelona and with master pâtissier Pierre Hermé in Paris in the process.

On returning home, she began to build an independent style and reputation of her own. She blends the precision of French technique with local ingredients and seasonal, often indigenous, fruits: think avocado ice cream; mamey mousse with chocolate ganache; cactus fruit vacherines and more. She also started reimagining some of Mexico’s famously sugary sweets through a healthier lens.

At the popular Hotel Carlota in Mexico City, she joined forces with fellow Pujol alumnus Joaquin Cardoso. The duo have since brough their creativity to bear on the intriguingly titled contemporary café-restaurant Te Extraño, Extraño (‘I Miss  You, Stranger’) in Merida, Yucatan, where Cortina proposes her ‘no-added sugar’ mantra.

Perhaps most exciting is this modest and fiercely determined chef’s freshest project – a ‘Franco-Mexican’ bakery called La Vitrine, which she is developing with the backing of Edgar Núñez of Sud 777 fame. While the retail launch in Mexico City has been delayed by the pandemic to early 2021, Cortina’s delicious creations – including delicate fruit-topped éclairs, intense gateaux, mini panques (sweet loaves) and a twist on the famous choux pastry Paris-Brest bun renamed Paris-Oaxaca – are already available to order.

And while this prestigious title cements Cortina’s status at the forefront of delicious desserts in Latin America, there’s no doubt plenty more to come from this accomplished and original pastry practitioner.

Now read the 50 Best article about Cortina to discover how she went from jobless pastry chef to the best in Latin America during the pandemic.