Elys Soto

I grew up in California, where food was a language of love. My big family from Mexico taught me to cook, and my great-grandma watched over my first steps in the kitchen. As the eldest of five with a young, hardworking mother, I learned early about resilience and respect. With her often away, supporting us, I was responsible for cooking dinner. In those moments, amidst pans, spices, and responsibilities, I realized my future was in the kitchen.

Music was my second passion, but the rhythm and harmony mirroring the orchestrated chaos of a kitchen was what captured me. Despite dreams of attending a prestigious culinary school across the country, life had other plans, rooting for me in California. Undeterred, I enrolled in a local culinary program, pushing myself to excel.

During my studies, I seized an opportunity to intern with a catering company serving at events like the legendary “Vans Warped Tour” and Coachella. It was there that my culinary journey intertwined with my love for music, igniting a fire within me.

After years of hard work, I finally achieved a significant accomplishment. I completed my culinary education and had the opportunity to cater to none other than the former President of the United States, Barack Obama. This experience was a turning point for me and fueled my ambition. It led to an exciting year of catering for bands I idolized while touring the country.

At just 21, I dove headfirst into the restaurant industry, working alongside revered chefs I once admired from afar. Their mentorship opened doors to a world of innovation, introducing me to ingredients and techniques beyond my wildest dreams.

Today, I manage a cafe and bakery, a hub of creativity and community. But beyond the confines of my kitchen, I strive to give back, partnering with local initiatives like “Feed the Block” to provide free meals and support to those in need. For me, the true essence of this journey lies in the ability to nourish not just bodies but souls. In a world where divisions run deep, food has the power to unite us all. And in that simple truth, I find the profound beauty of my craft.

What is your favorite street food?


Which restaurant or food stand do you recommend? (Different from yours) (Add its Instagram handle if possible)

The cellar

What is your guilty pleasure?

Jack in the box after a long shift and a blunt.

What ingredient do you find overrated?

Gold flake (it doesn’t even taste like anything).

What ingredient do you think is underrated?

Tomatoes (it’s the gift that keeps giving) so versatile!

What is your favorite kitchen tool?

A spoon. So much versatility.

What is your worst kitchen nightmare?

Anything that involves compression and gasses around flames.