Gifted with equal parts verve, vision, and an insatiable need to create, Alejandra Espinoza is the executive chef, co-owner and creative force behind SOMOS. Unapologetically ambitious, she’s making room for the people, places and palette of Ecuador at the global culinary table through her genre-defining restaurant in Quito.
Drawn to the kitchen from an early age, Alejandra learned the fundamentals of Ecuadorian
homestyle cooking from her nanny. Earnest to feed people well, she cooked her first multi-course meal for her family at age nine. By 15 she’d started a micro-scale catering operation, delivering lunches to locals and selling cakes at her school.
But it wasn’t until the age of 16, when Alejandra’s family relocated to France, that she got serious about pursuing a career as a chef. Inspired by French food culture, she enrolled at Lyon’s Institut de Paul Bocuse at age 18. Alejandra soon found herself honing advanced techniques in 3-star Michelin kitchens under such luminaries as Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse.
Hungry for new adventures, she then moved to San Francisco in 2014. The city’s exciting
“pop-up” dinner movement captured her imagination and she quickly became a fan-favorite chef on platforms such as Feastly, EatWith and DinnerLab. It was a time of immense creative freedom for her, where every event offered the opportunity to create original dishes that drew from the diverse tastes and traditions that influence her cooking. It was during that time that Alejandra met her husband and business partner, Signo Uddenberg.
With a desire to elevate Ecuadorian cuisine and make it globally renowned, she returned to her
country in 2018 to start SOMOS, but not before embarking on a 10-month global culinary tour to inspire her next steps. Together with Uddenberg, Alejandra traveled to 13 countries, delving into their various food cultures and learning new cooking techniques along the way.
Creative, instinctive, and highly disciplined, Alejandra has a bachelor of science degree in
hospitality management and a diploma in culinary arts and restaurant management from Institut Paul Bocuse. Her further studies include a masterclass in molecular gastronomy from the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastian, Spain. An adventure-seeker, avid trail runner, and mountaineer, Alejandra can be found enjoying Ecuador’s high sierras any chance she gets.
Alejandra’s SOMOS Restaurant in Quito was won one of Latin America’s 50 Best Awards for its culinary excellence. Read here what El Universo has to say about SOMOS.