My biggest life lesson is to buy local, and to support your community, and to be inclusive. Everybody should be involved in growing and cooking food together as a community.
Sonya Coté, owner and executive chef of Eden East, perceives cooking as much more than just putting food on a plate. She views her professional career as creating “edible pieces of art.” Sonya recognizes the importance of using locally-grown ingredients for both nutritional and environmental purposes.
Her affinity for cooking started at a young age. While growing up in Rhode Island, she was introduced by her French grandfather to a realm of fresh and simple ingredients that could be transformed into gourmet dishes. Sharing this with her grandfather was the initial spark that would lead to Sonya’s culinary career. After leaving Rhode Island, she moved to a commune in Iowa where she lived and worked with her mother. Sonya began growing her own ingredients, giving her the opportunity to create unique dishes. She foraged for interesting elements from the earth that could be incorporated into her cooking.
After earning a degree in graphic arts from the Art Institute of Dallas, she began her professional career in marketing with Whole Foods Market. During this time, she established her first catering company preparing bites for art openings, matching her preparation with featured artists at the Dallas Contemporary Museum. Eventually, Sonya was inspired to apply for apprenticeship, which led to the executive chef position at the Hoffman Haus and Natural Palette Cooking School in Fredericksburg, Texas. After years of culinary training, she found herself in Austin and soon took a position in the kitchen at Dai Due, alongside Jesse Griffiths.
Sonya has received numerous accolades, including recognition as one of Marie Claire’s “Women on Top.” In 2013, she competed on Food Network’s “Chopped” before opening the farm-to-table restaurant, Eden East, one of Austin Monthly’s “Best New Restaurants.” Soon after, she was named one of Tribeza’s “People of the Year.”
When Sonya is not being a boss babe at Eden East, you can find her at one of Austin’s many farmers markets or making appearances at culinary fundraisers and local food events.