About the Chefs
Executive Chef & Partner, SOL Cocina
Dubbed by Bon Appetit Magazine, “The reigning queen of San Diego chefs,” and nominated for a coveted 2009 James Beard Foundation Award for her cookbook Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta, Chef Deborah Schneider brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her newest venture as Executive Chef of SOL Cocina. Schneider draws upon her rich culinary background and over 25 years of professional cooking experience to bring the wonderful tastes and laid–back beach vibe of the Baja Peninsula to Southern California.
Schneider’s passion for Baja was inspired by countless surf trips down the coast. There, at small street stands and on pristine beaches, she discovered the flavorful, healthy cuisine, rich with fresh seafood and inventive preparations, that is at the heart of the concept of SOL Mexican Cocina. Her first cookbook, ¡Baja! Cooking on the Edge (Rodale, 2006) was chosen one of “The Best of the Best” of 2006 by Food & Wine Magazine. Amor y Tacos (STC, 2010) which puts an exciting spin on modern Mexican food and cocktails and features many recipes from SOL Mexican Cocina. She co-authored Williams Sonoma’s Essentials of Latin Cooking in 2010. Her most recent book is The Mexican Slow Cooker (Ten Speed Press, 2012).
Through her restaurant work and writings, Deborah 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 (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2008), celebrates the organic gardens and cooking school of the legendary Rancho La Puerta one of the world’s most famous fitness resorts, where Schneider is a frequent guest teacher.
Head Chef, Newport Beach
Though born and raised in Orange County, Octavio Flores has deep roots in Mexico, with family in various parts of the country.
Chef ‘O’ comes from a culinary family. He pursued his culinary passion through many well-known OC restaurants, becoming expert in French technique while working his way up through the ranks under some of the best chefs in California. He was Executive Sous Chef with Culinary Ventures at French 75 in Newport Beach before joining the SOL Cocina team in March of 2009.
Head Chef, SOL Scottsdale
Ernesto Lopez Jr. was born and raised in West Phoenix, into a family of cooks and chefs. His mother (originally from Sonora, Mexico) and siblings are all in the restaurant business. Ernesto began his career path in the business at age 16, washing dishes in a well-known Phoenix restaurant, and worked his way up through the ranks to sous chef. He took his first Executive Chef position at age 23 with the Z’Tejas group and remained with them for 11 years, running several busy locations as well as the training kitchen, and was twice chosen the restaurant group’s ‘Chef of the Year.’
Ernesto joined SOL Mexican Cocina in January 2012 to lead SOL into the Scottsdale market. His personal passion is “cooking in the fire of a booming kitchen, creating, executing, leading and being part of a collective group that wants to give our guests a truly memorable experience.” He and his wife, Maria I. Lopez, have two teenage daughters.