Deborah Schneider - Dining - Chef Profiles - Orange Coast Magazine

DINING | Chef profiles

Deborah Schneider

The Sol Cocina chef talks fake food, real love, and the fish taco that started it all

7/1/2010

Mouthful  Published July 2010

It was a classic love story for Deborah Schneider: Boy meets girl, boy takes girl on romantic getaway, girl falls in love with boy—and tacos. Somewhere along the picturesque beaches of Baja California more than 30 years ago, Schneider’s affection for fresh, Baja-style Mexican food began. “My first fish taco in Ensenada was probably the best I’ve had in my life,” says the San Diego resident and chef of Newport Beach’s Sol Cocina. Schneider married the boy, Barry, had two kids, Anne, 19, and Willy, 17, and devoted three decades to the region’s cuisine, writing cookbooks such as the James Beard Awards nominee “Cooking With the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta,” and her latest, “Amor y Tacos.”

CULINARY BIBLE
Although Schneider took culinary classes in her native Canada, she says she learned how to cook from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” “I bought it in 1972 or ’73. I cooked my way through it and heard Julia’s voice in my head. If I ever want to know a certain technique, I go to that book.”

CULINARY BIBLE
Although Schneider took culinary classes in her native Canada, she says she learned how to cook from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” “I bought it in 1972 or ’73. I cooked my way through it and heard Julia’s voice in my head. If I ever want to know a certain technique, I go to that book.”

OLD FLAMES
“If I see old cooking gear, I have to buy it. It needs a home, and I really respect that these tools were handled for so
long by people—and you can still use them.”

SPANISH LESSONS
“My Spanish is horrible. Anything having to do with food, I can understand, but my spoken Spanish is absolutely dreadful. My dream is to live down there for at least six months, to learn the language.”

ENDLESS SIMMER
Though Schneider worked in French and Italian kitchens, she was more interested in what the back of the house was eating than what it was cooking. “A lot of my co-workers would talk about Mexican cooking; they all had amazing stories about their food, what their mothers made in their pueblos. I started researching the food and just wanted to eat it all the time.”

Sol Cocina
251 E. Coast Highway
Newport Beach
949-675-9800
www.solcocina.com

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