Rosetta, Mexico City
As the key figure behind one of Mexico City’s most celebrated restaurants, Elena Reygadas has spent a long time reflecting on what should be the role of a chef in the 21st century. Her soul-searching has led her not only to reflect Mexico’s biodiversity and its rich cultures in her menus at her flagship, Rosetta, but also to developing initiatives that stretch the boundaries of what a restaurant can be in the modern world.
Born in Mexico City in 1976, Reygadas was fascinated by the written word and studied English literature at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, but after graduation, it was the kitchen that called to her. Memories of big, bustling family meals when she was a child, an appreciation for Mexico’s diverse culinary cultures and the realisation that food could be her chosen language pushed her to enrol at the French Culinary Institute in New York (now the International Culinary Centre).
Her passion then led her to London, where she spent several years working alongside Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli at his popular Michelin-starred restaurant, Locanda Locatelli. Reygadas absorbed some of the key principles of Italian cuisine – respect for the ingredients, seasonality and hospitality – and took those with her when she moved back to Mexico City after the birth of her first daughter.
Rosetta opened its doors in February 2010 in an old mansion in the historic neighbourhood of Roma, outfitted with furniture that Reygadas hand-picked at markets and second-hand sales. She was among the first in Mexico City to understand the importance of bread as part of a refined meal, studying ancient artisanal baking traditions and bringing back the technique of slow fermentation to develop her own recipe for the perfect loaf. It proved so popular that in 2012, Rosetta expanded into La Panadería de Rosetta, a bakery where loyal diners and the public can buy Reygadas’ creations directly.
Rosetta has been voted into eight editions of the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list, also making its first appearance in the extended list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2022 at No.60. At her distinctive boho-chic flagship, Reygadas channels her research into Mexico’s biodiversity and seasons into an evolving à la carte menu. Among the chef’s most recognisable creations are savoy cabbage tacos with pistachio pipián sauce, sweet potato ravioli with matcha and corn tamales with smoked cream.
As her popularity grew, Reygadas didn’t only open a handful of other places in Mexico City – including the more casual Lardo, Café Nin and Bella Aurora – but also began to expand her work into other areas. In recent years, the chef has been curating and publishing a series of short texts she calls cuadernos – or notebooks – featuring extracts of academic texts she considers of importance in the conversation around modern gastronomy, which diners can pick up at Rosetta. Through them, she hopes to raise awareness and encourage conversations around the ways in which health, culture and the environment all converge in gastronomy.
In 2022, Reygadas launched a scholarship, called Beca Elena Reygadas, to give young women in the Mexican countryside the means to pursue a career in cooking. Growing into her role as a chef of global influence, Reygadas is among those most dedicated to moving gastronomy into a positive direction and making it a crucial part of conversation about modern culture – a mission worthy of The World’s Best Female Chef 2023.
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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.
Discover more about the previous award winners