As seen in “SOL Cocina: the Sun Kitchen” on A Taste of Dawn online HERE.

Where did your passion for food begin?

I was an insanely picky eater as a child, but my aunt had a farm and a garden and I liked everything that grew there – raw peas, raspberries, little teeny carrots. When I hit my teens I got a palate all at once and everything tasted great. I realized that the only way to get enough of what I liked was to own the means of production, so I learned to cook.

What is your favorite childhood memory ?
Waking up on a summer morning and knowing I didn’t have to go to school that day…or the next…or the next.

What is your absolute favorite thing to make?
Absolutely anything grilled: pizza, potatoes, carne asada, spring onions. And Christmas cookies.

When you’re at home, what is your guilty pleasure?
I don’t feel guilty about anything … but I do enjoy a glass of expensive red wine.

If you were asked to make one meal to appeal to everyone at an important dinner, what would it be and why?
Everyone? The vegan, the vegetarian, the gluten allergy, the well-done, the charred-rare, the kosher, the no-red-meat, the no onions, no garlic, no alcohol? No dairy?  Humanely raised, sustainable, local, organic, fair trade?
…..God, I haven’t a clue!

How did the concept of SOL arise?
My partners (Rich Howland and Matt Baumayr) went surfing in Baja, decided to open a restaurant and found my book, Baja! Cooking on the Edge. They called me and the rest is history.

What city would you most want to visit to indulge in culinary-wise?
Right now, I would really like to go to Istanbul. And Melbourne. And Singapore. In that order.

What is your favorite cocktail?
SOL’s cucumber-jalapeno margarita made with Partida blanco. (Mine too!!! – ATOD)

Favorite wine?
Right now, Belle Glos

Favorite Beer?
Don’t drink it.

What is your favorite smell?
Someone else cooking me breakfast.

What does your Sous Chef call you?
My chefs in Newport and Scottsdale just call me Deb. Everyone else calls me Chef Deb.

What is your vision for SOL and beyond?
I think SOL is ground-breaking in so many ways: healthy, authentic, fun and affordable. We are going to grow it. Eventually, my dream is sell my shares and have my own island off Costa Rica with a great surf break, a 48-foot Bertram fish-killer and a luxurious 4-casita beach motel with a helipad and unlisted number. Though with 2 kids in college, I will likely have to work till I die. Not that I mind; I love what I do.

What was your favorite childhood cartoon?
Roadrunner and Coyote. Now that I am in the restaurant business, I appreciate even more its finely tuned combination of irony and karma and the expert application of Murphy’s Law.

A FUN FACT: In the early 1980s, Deborah spent eight months on a BMW motorcycle touring France, Spain, the Canary Islands, North Africa, Italy, and Greece. (Gosh I love this woman!)

Chef Deborah Schneider is nothing short of sunshine and novelty, color and authenticity. A woman that not only embraces the art of fare, she tackles it with a fervor that allows anyone who dines to feel like food is allowed to have some flavor (and some fun). With dishes like Hot & Raw Ceviche, Shortribs Barbacoa en Cazuela, and street tacos that are just plain delicious, her willingness to think outside the box while infusing the true culture and feel of Mexican Coastal cuisine is absolutely admirable. When I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. The circumstances were highly unique – I had written a review that was less than stellar and this was my second attempt (because I was certain I just came in on an “off” night originally and Sol had much more to offer). Turns out I was right. Sol Cocina is a reflection of continual evolution. Chef Deb puts her heart into what she does and it shows right down to how she runs the kitchen. So, when we met, what I found was a Chef that is just as she seems: real and approachable, highly versed in a plethora of fare (including my favorite fascination: chiles), and a one-of-a-kind in every way. Much like the down-to-earth feel you get when speaking to her, the cuisine she prepares is full of love, color, and vitality…