Deborah Schneider, executive chef and partner of SOL Cocina in Newport Beach, has introduced a fresh and different approach to Mexican cuisine, gathering inspiration from taco bars and roadside stalls in Baja, and streetside trucks in Tijuana. In Orange County, she has revamped the country's traditional flavors, delivering new ways to “do” Mexican in an upscale or fine-dining setting.
A published author of four cookbooks, including SOL-inspired "Amor y Tacos" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), award-winning "Baja! Cooking on the Edge" (Rodale) and "Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta" (STC), which was nominated for a 2009 James Beard Foundation Award, Schneider began her culinary career in the early 1980s, while living in Athens, Greece, where she worked as a chef on a succession of luxury charter yachts.
Later, she served as a yacht chef in Florida and the Caribbean. In 1983, Schneider settled in San Diego, where she made a culinary name for herself as the creative force behind the area’s best-known restaurants and hotels, including the acclaimed Jsix/Jbar, Hilton Torrey Pines, Dobson’s, Grant Grill and La Gran Tapa. Schneider received her Certified Executive Chef ranking in 2001 from the American Culinary Federation. In mid-2009, Schneider, with two partners, opened her own restaurant, SOL Cocina, where she currently serves as executive chef.
About the books …
Schneider’s first cookbook, "¡Baja! Cooking on the Edge," was published in spring 2006 and was named among “The Best of the Best” for the year by Food & Wine magazine. Through her restaurant work and writings, Schneider was an early advocate of the local farm-to-table movement and in supporting sustainable fisheries in California and Baja.
Her second book, "Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta: Recipes from the World Famous Spa," published in September 2008, was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award. This gorgeous cookbook celebrates the organic gardens and cooking school of Rancho La Puerta, one of the world’s most famous fitness resorts, where Schneider is a frequent guest teacher.
Schneider’s third book, which she co-authored, is "Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of Latin Cooking," published in 2010.
Her SOL-inspired fourth book, "Amor y Tacos," debuted in early 2010 as a fresh and different approach to Mexican cuisine, gathering inspiration from taco bars and roadside stalls in Baja and streetside trucks in Tijuana. The book delivers new, innovative takes on traditional Mexican flavors. The recipes are quick and easy-to-make and, in addition to tacos, include antojitos (the “little bites” that are Mexico’s variation on tapas), salsas, tequila and mescal-based cocktails, and the amazingly thirst-quenching fruit drinks called aguas frescas.
About SOL Cocina …
SOL Cocina is a unique restaurant and bar celebrating traditional Baja cuisine with a modern interpretation. Designed to echo the expansive sea, sky and desert of the Baja peninsula, SOL features old-world charm juxtaposed with an urban comfort, including an open exhibition kitchen with counter seating for guests who like to see the bustling kitchen that mimics the Baja taco bar. SOL offers a decadent menu of the freshest seasonal ingredients and authentic Mexican flavors, along with a vibrant bar that honors the flavors of the Baja region with artisan tequilas and mezcals.
Located at 251 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. at Bayside Drive on the Balboa Marina, SOL is open daily. For more information, call 949.675.9800 or visit solcocina.com.