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 Elena Reygadas: A Culinary Leader Championing Women and Sustainability

Maureen-Evans

In 2023, Mexican chef Elena Reygadas was named The World’s Best Female Chef, a recognition of her exceptional culinary skills and her efforts to reshape the gastronomic world. As the chef-owner of the renowned Rosetta in Mexico City, Reygadas’ path to success has been characterized by self-reflection, resilience, and a dedication to balancing her professional and personal life.  This year in 2024 Rosetta is No.34 on this year’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list?

 Elena Reygadas
Hoja santa and criollo white bean cacao by Maureen Evens

 Elena Reygadas Defines herself

Reygadas defies herself a image of the intense and obsessive chef. At 46, with a thriving career and two children, she has become a leading figure in contemporary Mexican cuisine, overseeing five successful establishments: Rosetta, Lardo, Café Nin, Bella Aurora, and the iconic La Panadería de Rosetta.

Initially hesitant to embrace her role as a leader, Reygadas gradually understood the influence she held. She realized her responsibility as a role model for young women in the culinary world, viewing it as a duty to step into the spotlight not for personal gain but to inspire and uplift others.

Receiving the title of The World’s Best Female Chef is a significant milestone, not just for Reygadas but for women across the culinary industry. This prestigious accolade, awarded by over 1,000 experts worldwide, highlights her impact on global gastronomy. Reygadas sees this recognition as an opportunity to elevate other women within the food production chain.

Since being named Latin America’s Best Female Chef in 2014, Reygadas has developed a deeper understanding of the power and responsibility that come with such honors. She has used her platform to address broader societal issues, launching a series of notebooks, or *cuadernos*, to deepen diners’ understanding of the intersection between gastronomy and critical topics like climate change, social inequality, and food policies. These texts, available at Rosetta, aim to spark conversation and reflection, reinforcing her belief that restaurants should serve as think tanks for societal ideas and debates.

Reygadas’ commitment to sustainability and climate change is evident in her culinary creations. At Rosetta, her menu increasingly features vegetable-forward dishes that highlight Mexico’s biodiversity and traditional food practices. Her signature dish, a taco made with savoy cabbage leaves, pistachio-based pipián sauce, and romeritos, an herb native to Mexico, underscores her dedication to sustainability while celebrating Mexico’s rich culinary heritage.

Her journey into Mexican gastronomy deepened following the pandemic, as she traveled across the country, rediscovering her culinary roots. This experience illuminated the systemic challenges faced by women in the culinary field, particularly in rural areas where educational opportunities are scarce. In response, Reygadas established the Beca Elena Reygadas scholarship to support young women aspiring to study gastronomy but lacking financial means. This initiative has already received an overwhelming response, with over 300 applications in its first month.

Rosetta-interior-by-Maureen-Evans  Elena Reygadas
Rosetta-interior-by-Maureen-Evans

Reygadas’ efforts extend beyond her restaurants and personal achievements. She aims to foster a culture of philanthropy in Mexico, akin to those in the United States and Europe, where giving back to society is a recognized practice. She believes it is her turn to give something to the new generations, particularly young women in the Mexican countryside who want to study gastronomy but cannot afford it.

Her advocacy for women’s leadership in professional kitchens stems from her own experiences. During her training years,  Elena Reygadas  noticed the scarcity of women in leadership roles, a situation she was determined to change. After becoming a mother, she returned to Mexico City with the goal of leading her own restaurant, which she achieved by opening Rosetta in 2010.

Balancing motherhood with her demanding career has been one of  Elena Reygadas ‘ biggest challenges. She juggled her responsibilities as a mother and a chef, ensuring that her daughters, Lea and Julieta, did not feel neglected. Today, her daughters are proud of their mother’s achievements and the sacrifices she made to build a successful career while raising a family.

Rosetta’s consistent presence in the rankings of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants and its debut in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2022 underscore  Elena Reygadas’ impact on the culinary world. As she steps into the global spotlight, she remains committed to highlighting Mexico’s diverse cultures and cuisines, emphasizing the coexistence of ancestral and contemporary Mexico.

Elena Reygadas  dedicates her award to all women who cook daily, both in professional kitchens and at home. She aims to promote women’s leadership in restaurants and inspire others to achieve their culinary dreams.

Elena Reygadas’ journey is a powerful reminder of the transformative potential of leadership and the importance of using one’s platform to effect positive change. Through her work, she continues to inspire and uplift women in the culinary world and beyond.

News Shot 24
Author: News Shot 24

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