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Elena Reygadas | When The Moon Comes Through The Trailing Willow Boughs, I See Your Face, I Hear Your Voice

Via The 25th Anniversary Issue, Under The Silver Moon

Written by

Photographed by

Germán Nájera

Iván Flores

Styled by

Paulina Vilar

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PEPA POMBO dress and REGINA ROMERO shoes.

No Sólo de Pan Vive el Hombre: “Man does not live on bread alone.” A fulfilled life is not, as this Mexican idiom illumines, synonymous with material wealth; rather, fulfillment is complete with the nourishment of mind and soul. Acclaimed chef Elena Reygadas knows this wisdom to be true. Her renowned restaurant, Rosetta, opened in 2010, and commenced her buzzed-about journey and embrace of Mexico’s soul and community. Two years later, she headed just around the corner, Calle Colima, and opened what would soon become one of Mexico’s beloved bakeries: La Panadería de Rosetta. Since then, she has opened Lardo, Café Nin, and Bella Aurora, all acclaimed and all at home in the city’s trendiest neighborhoods. 

Rosetta has been consistently recognized on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list, earning a spot in eight editions. In 2022, Rosetta made its inaugural appearance in the extended list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. The most recent achievement came in 2023 when Elena Reygadas was honored with the prestigious title of ‘The World’s Best Female Chef.’ Despite the global fanfare that Reygadas projects, she attests that it was her path, carved from traditional cooking with family, which lead to discovering unfamiliar flavors. “There are so many recipes from my grandmothers that we still make at Rosetta,” she shares. 

Reygadas’ education was dynamic. She studied English Literature at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, attended French culinary training in New York City, and worked under the acclaimed Italian chef, Giorgio Locatelli, in London. Her university thesis was about Virginia Woolf’s novel The Waves. Like Woolf’s feminist philosophies, Reygadas actively advocates for gender equality in professional kitchens. In 2022, she expanded her impact by launching the Beca Elena Reygadas Scholarship. The fund covers accommodation and living expenses for female culinary students who would otherwise be facing financial barriers. 

For Reygadas, the culinary experience stimulates all five senses, as evidenced in Rosetta’s vibrant interiors, table arrangements, local flowers, and music—a space that sparks real conversations and counters the impersonal rush of the present day. This multi-sensory and ever-evolving experience is critical to Reygadas in both her restaurants and writing, obliquely drawing upon literary influences. Early in the restaurant's tenure for instance, Rosetta’s menu favored Reygada’s Italian training, before eventually, evolving toward her own take on Mexican cuisine. By building playful tension between tradition and innovation, Reygadas contemplates her country’s biodiversity, its identity, its history. 

Taking a moment from the kitchen, Reygadas spoke with FLAUNT about finding her voice, lifting up communities, and silver linings. 

PEPA POMBO sweater, shirt, and pants and REGINA ROMERO shoes.

What do you consider to be “comfort food?” What is a favorite dish of yours that brings you back to your childhood? 

It’s hard to pick only one; although, I remember one thing I used to enjoy the most from our family road trips—puerquitos de piloncillo, a traditional pastry in the shape of a small pig that we now bake at La Panadería. Every now and then, I have one, and it transports me back to my childhood. Puerquitos are a type of sweet bread, or what we call Pan Dulce. Although I would say bread in general is my comfort food, a good slice of sourdough with honey and olive oil is something that I find delicious and comforting. Also, I find the role bread plays in Mexican culture very interesting. When people think of Mexican cuisine, often the first things that come to mind are corn, tortillas, and tacos, but wheat and bread also have a key role in our food culture. 

What do you feel is most misunderstood about your profession? 

I believe as cooks, we are sometimes taught to focus on techniques, rather than letting the ingredients shine on their own, and cooking in rhythm with nature. The connection between what we are eating, sometimes goes unnoticed. For me, being a cook starts by listening to nature. I like to think of our role as chefs as mediums; we need to listen to ingredients, seeking to convey what they have to tell us. Mexico is a country with great biodiversity and also with significant ethnic and cultural diversity. 

PEPA POMBO coat and dress andREGINA ROMER shoes.

Do you think it’s important for culinary leaders to use their art and influence to lift up communities? 

I think we have a great responsibility. From my kitchen, I try to express why it’s essential to respect the cycles of nature, consume locally, and oppose industrialized products—not just for taste but also for well-being, nutrition, and the environment. We must advocate for sustainability and raise awareness of the impact of our food choices. Furthermore, in terms of gender inequality, there is still much work to be done, both in the culinary world and in society as a whole. Being a mother and a chef made me realize that. I feel a tremendous responsibility to promote and strengthen female leadership in the industry. That’s one of the reasons why I launched a scholarship for Mexican women studying gastronomy last year, as an initiative to promote female leadership in the industry. 

How do you relate to the concept of ‘silver linings’? 

We have another saying in Mexico: ‘las penas con pan son menos,’ which means ‘sorrows are less bitter with bread,’ and another one that is ‘Para todo mal, mezcal,’ which means that in any bad situation, mezcal can provide some relief. I believe the joyful and colorful traditions that we have in Mexico are a reflection of how we see life, or even death, and how there is always a silver lining. Also, I believe food plays an important role in connecting with those silver linings. The communal act of cooking and the shared enjoyment of food offer relief in challenging circumstances and are also tangible expressions of finding positivity in adversity. 

How do you define the idea of having a ‘voice’ in the kitchen beyond that of vocal chords?

This ‘voice’ is how I express myself through what I cook. And for me, this means that everything I cook must be aligned with my core values and what is important to me. Cooking is the most powerful way for me to advocate for what I believe.

PEPA POMBO dress and REGINA ROMERO shoes.

Photographed by Germán Nájera and Iván Flores

Styled by Paulina Vilar

Written by Sofia Ziman

Hair: Lucia Gomez Fuente

Makeup: Regina Aguilar

Photo Assistant: Alejandro Arredondo

Location: Restaurante Rosetta

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Elena Reygadas, Flaunt Magazine, Under The Silver Moon Issue, Issue 190, The 25th Anniversary Issue, Sofia Ziman, Germán Nájera, Iván Flores, Paulina Vilar, Pepa Pombo, Regina Romero
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