For chef Sonya Coté, named one of The Daily Meal’s “Top 10 Badass Women Chefs in America”, owner and executive chef of Austin’s Eden East and Hillside Farmacy , cooking is more than just putting food on a plate – it’s about creating “edible pieces of art”, utilizing locally-grown and raised ingredients for freshness and nutrition, and educating future generations.
Coté grew up in Rhode Island, where her French chef grandfather shared his love for fresh and simple gourmet dishes that would spark her inspiration for years to come. After earning her degree in graphic arts from the Art Institute of Dallas, Sonya worked in marketing at Whole Foods and, during that time, founded her first catering company supplying bites for art openings, pairing expertly matched cuisine with artwork at the Dallas Contemporary Art Museum. Sonya’s first apprenticeship was under chef Dominico Biasi and later, Coté worked under chef Leslie Washburn and served as executive chef for the Hoffman Haus and The Natural Palette Cooking School in Fredericksburg, Texas where she honed her daily, local food-driven menus. After years of culinary training, Sonya arrived in Austin, became sous chef under chef Andrew Brookes and went on to work with Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due before running the kitchen as executive chef at East Side Show Room.
In 2012, the Les Dames d’Escoffier member opened Hillside Farmacy, an artisanal eatery and specialty grocery store in East Austin that Bon Appetit hailed as one of “The Best Spots in America to Taste the Revival”. Coté was then named one of Marie Claire’s “Women on Top”; the national award recognizing women who have shown “unparalleled talent, vision and backbone in blazing their own trails.” Sonya earned the distinguished award for both her creative cuisine and as a tireless champion of local food.
In 2013, Coté appeared on The Food Network’s “Chopped” television program before opening the true farm to table restaurant Eden East, which was named one of Austin Monthly’s “Best New Restaurants”. Soon after, Sonya was honored by Austin lifestyle magazine, Tribeza, being named as one of the popular publication’s “People of The Year”.
In 2015, Coté partnered with the immersive video cinema and dining installation Monkeytown, which is currently in the middle of its 3-month run in Austin and has met to glowing acclaim. Nightly, Sonya delivers locally-inspired four course dinners to captivated audiences seated inside a massive 27 foot cube, watching a two-hour multi-channel video program. This month, Sonya rounded out 2015 with a bang by traveling to Santa Monica, CA and winning TasteMade’s “Grill Iron” Championship (see profile here).
Sonya can regularly be found combing the fields of Springdale Farm for menu inspirations, sourcing ingredients at Austin farmers’ markets and making appearances at culinary fundraisers and educational food events.