Chefs are sexy. Period. Just take a moment and watch them work. There's an art to mastering the nuances of a kitchen, and when chefs prep their services, sharpen their knives, dress their tables, pair their wines, and dish their plates, we can't help but swoon. When we finally taste the fruit of their labors, we admit; we get a little hot under the collar. Throw in some Latin spice, and we're completely over the moon. But in addition to having serious kitchen chops, these ten chefs have ranked as our faves. Whether its their involvement in their communities, their dedication to their native cuisine or, well, simply how they fill out those chef whites, these Latin cocineros make our first 'Hot Chef' list. (We're sure there will be more to come, so stay tuned.)
Consider it our weekend gift to you. Here's to hot chefs!
Meet Rodrigo Oliveira
Rodrigo Oliveira, 32, is the chef-owner of Mocotó, the acclaimed Brazilian restaurant in São Paulo, Brazil that was originally created as a grocery by Rodrigo's father, José Almeida, forty years ago. Hailed as one of the five most influential young chefs in the world by Elle à Table magazine, and Mocotó as one of the ten coolest restaurants by The Restaurant magazine, Newsweek included the restaurant in the "101 best places to eat around the globe." Understandable that the always busy, low-profile, no-reservation Mocotó has people waiting for a table any day every day of the week. But we're betting it might also have something to do with this very cool chef's understated charm.
Meet Marcela Valladolid
Growing up around expert cooks in Tijuana, Mexico, Marcela Valladolid always knew she wanted to be a chef. After graduating from the Los Angeles Culinary Institute, Valladolid went on to the Ritz Escoffier Cooking School in Paris to train as a classical French pastry chef. Returning home to run a catering company and teach children about the culinary arts in Tijuana, Valladolid eventually became a food editor at Bon Appétit magazine, but all the while she felt that authentic Mexican food wasn’t accessible, and desperately wanted to rid the world of overflowing burritos filled with liquid yellow cheese. In August 2009, Valladolid showcased her family recipes when she released her first cookbook Fresh Mexico: 100 Simple Recipes for True Mexican Flavor. She then went on to host of her own Food Network show, Mexican Made Easy. And in 2011, Valladolid released her second book, Mexican Made Easy. We think she's made her mark.
Meet Angelo Sosa
You may remember Angelo Sosa from Bravo’s 2010 season of Top Chef, but Sosa has been a staple of the New York culinary scene for years. Born in Connecticut to a Dominican father and an Italian mother, Sosa understood from a young age that meals were a serious affair. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Sosa met his future mentor, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and started a culinary partnership that lasted years, ultimately opening up Spice Market in New York City as the executive sous chef. After his stint on Top Chef, Sosa went on to open Social Eatz (now closed), and Añejo Tequileria, in New York City. He’s also the author of Flavor Exposed: 100 Global Recipes from Sweet to Salty, Earthy to Spicy.
Meet Ana Quincoces
Voted Miami’s “hottest chef” by Eater magazine in 2011, Ana Quincoces grew up in a Cuban household in sunny Miami, Florida, where she was her mother’s apprentice in the kitchen and discovered her passion for cooking. Quincoces published her first cookbook, Cuban Chicks Can Cook, after failing to find an authentic Cuban cookbook that appealed to the younger generation, including her daughters. Since then Quincoces has written two more books, Sabor! A Passion for Cuban Cuisine, and an upcoming cookbook for Miami's Versailles Restaurant due out this fall. Quincoces, a regular magazine and newspaper contributor, has appeared in cooking segments for CNN en Español, Univision’s “Despierta America”, Telemundo’s “Acceso Total,” Global Fox’s Utilisima network, and is the gourmet editor for Venue Magazine.
Meet Virgilio Martinez
Virgilio Martinez is chef and owner of Central in Peru, as well as the recently opened Lima on London in London. Though he originally planned to be a lawyer, he jumped from law school to cooking, traveling the world to get the best experience possible. From Colombia to Southeast Asia to New York and back to Peru he went, ultimately making an impression on the culinary world during his tenure as Executive Chef at acclaimed chef Gaston Acurio's Astrid y Gaston in Lima. With Central, Martinez puts his 10 years of travel into designing a menu that reflects Peru's cuisine and local, seasonal ingredients but also brings in bold flavors from around the world.
Meet Susie Jimenez
You might remember Susie Jiminez as the runner-up from Food Network’s Next Food Network Star (where she was known as “Susie Spice It Up”). Now, she’s the co-host of Spanish Fox daytime show Sabores de Familia. After attending culinary school and working her way up through the restaurant ranks, Jimenez is opening her first restaurant in Houston, called Trenza. The small bites eatery will focus on Latin food with an Indian influence, reflecting Jimenez’s years of experience cooking classic dishes with her extended family.
Meet Javier Plascencia
Javier Plascencia, chef and owner of Mision 19 in Tijuana, is trying to revitalize his city, one meal at a time. Born and raised in the very busy border town, Plascencia and his family sought refuge up north in San Diego when the violence in their notorious hometown reached all time highs. Hailing from a food family -- Plascencia's father owned pizzerias in the late 60's -- after culinary school and apprentice work, Plascencia returned home to put his style of cooking (and his city) back on the map. Focusing on traditional Mexican cuisine, accented by the ingredients and flavors found in Baja California’s coastal climate, Plascencia is hoping to entice everyone past the border and back into a beautiful, peaceful Mexico. In our opinion, he's definitely succeeding.
Meet Ingrid Hoffmann
Ingrid Hoffmann never set out to rock the kitchen. The recognizable chef from popular television shows on The Food Network, The Cooking Channel, and Univision has even confessed to actively avoiding a culinary career, desperate to grow past the skills that she learned in her childhood. Now, Hoffmann is a culinary rock star: She writes a monthly column for Delta Sky Magazine, is readying a colorful Latin America-inspired line of cookware, kitchen gadgets, and accessories for launch in the late summer/early fall of 2013 and she’s the author of Latin D'Lite: Delicious Latin Recipes with a Healthy Twist and the Spanish-speaking edition, Latin D'Lite: Deliciosas Recetas Latinas con un Toque Saludable.
Meet Yvan Lemoine
Yvan Lemoine, a New York based chef and mixologist, was a finalist in the most recent season of The Next Food Network Star. Though he never received formal culinary training, Lemoine dove into culinary jobs, ultimately founding iFood Studios with his brother, and working with the Lavo restaurant group in New York City, and Surf Lodge in the Hamptons. His debut cookbook, Comida U.S.A. is a collection of American favorites written for a Spanish-speaking audience, and the recipes, elaborated and elevated versions of the food Americans eat on a daily basis, are a combo Lemoine’s combination of American classics and Latin roots.
Meet Aarón Sánchez
Texas-born, Brooklyn-based Mexican chef Aarón Sánchez needs no formal introduction. Co-star of two Food Network hit series (Chopped and Heat Seekers) and the chef/owner of Kansas City’s Mestizo, Sánchez is also the son of celebrated cookbook author and restaurateur Zarela Martinez, and grew up in the culinary world. Staying close to his roots, Sánchez has focused on flavors and ingredients he grew up with, playing off classic dishes and Mexican street food to create bold menus. Now, he's behind the uber successful and delicious Crossroads at House of Blues nationwide and Tacombi Tacqueria in New York City. Sánchez's first book, La Comida del Barrio, was published in May 2003. His second book, Simple Food, Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-Inspired Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours, was released in October 2011.