ABOUT SOL


About the Chefs


Deborah Schneider
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 PuertaChef 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.

 


Octavio Flores
Regional Chef

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.

 


Ernesto Lopez
Head Chef, Scottsdale

Ernesto is a Phoenix native. His entire family . including his mother, are cooks and chefs. He started out washing dishes and worked his way up, becoming an Executive Chef at age 23 for Z’Tejas, which twice honored him as their ‘Chef of the Year.’ Ernesto joined us in 2012 to lead SOL Mexican Cocina into the Scottsdale market. He describes his personal passion as “ ….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.”


ALFONSO de ZUNIGA
Head Chef, Newport Beach

Fonzy was born in Mexico City and raised in Southern California. He started his culinary career during high school, shucking oysters and cleaning fish in the California port of San Pedro. He pursued culinary studies at Long Beach Community College. Prior to joining SOL Cocina in October 2014, Fonzy was Executive Chef for Zov’s Bistro. He joined the food truck nation, operating two busy food trucks. Fonzy is a survivor of Cheesecake Factory, and has also held executive positions with Lazy Dog Café and Jimmy’s Famous American Taverns and a national hotel chain.


TIA BAKER
Head Chef, Playa Vista

Chef Tia began her culinary career as a pastry chef at the prestigious Montage resort in Orange County, but quickly realized that running an entire kitchen was far more fun. She worked her way up to an R&D Executive position with Cheesecake Factory, opening five stores in the Western states. Tia has held executive positions with high-end private clubs and other fine dining establishments in the West. She is a graduate in Culinary Studies from The Art Institute of Orange County.