Last August, Elena Reygadas won the prestigious title of the Veuve Clicquot Latin America’s Best Female Chef, with her restaurant Rosetta simultaneously making its debut onto the Latin America list at No. 33. So have things changed for the chef and her team in Mexico City? We caught up with Elena to find out her thoughts on being voted the best in the region and the prospect of hosting Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015 in her home city.
Elena, congratulations once again your award. Has it changed anything for you?
First of all, there’s been an immediate effect on the people I work with. They feel much prouder about the place, and for me that’s amazing. Then, of course, it has had an impact on the restaurant. We have a lot more foreign customers now. Before, they didn’t want to go to Rosetta because we do pasta – among many other things – and people didn’t want to go to a place they thought was not Mexican. But that’s changed since winning the award and I’m really happy about it.
Why do you think the Veuve Clicquot Best Female Chef award is important?
Kitchens are full of women, but only up to a certain level – they stop at some point because they want to have families. This award is important because it’s a way to encourage women, to say to them that you can have a family and own a restaurant and you just have to organise yourself. Many women have come to me since winning the award – both wanting to work with me and asking me about how I deal with it. It’s nice.
How do you feel about Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants being held in Mexico this year?
Mexicans have always been really good hosts and we’re really happy when people come to us. Peruvians are as well, of course, and Latin Americans in general, but Mexicans in particular get really excited about the idea that all these really important people are coming to eat, to enjoy, to have a good time. It’s a moment of opportunity to show them what’s going on. We’re all really happy – not just cooks but also Mexicans in general.
What do you want the world to know about Mexican food?
I would love to tell the world that Mexican food is not just about traditional and regional food, it’s much more. It’s now full of freedom and expression. Many of us from this generation have left Mexico and then returned home, and after that you see your own country in another way. I would love people to see that it’s not just traditional Mexican food, it’s much more. It’s like a new expression, a new generation. It’s a new moment for cooking.
What trends are happening in Mexican cuisine in 2015?
It’s all about using what you have as ingredients and then making it your own. It doesn’t matter the technique: just make it your own and try to express yourself through these really special ingredients. We’re really lucky because we have many, many special ingredients.
What’s your favourite ingredient?
I can’t name just one! I love herbs. I love tropical fruits and I like to use them not as dessert. Seafood is amazing too…
Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants 2015 will be held in Mexico City on Wednesday 23rd September