Published on March 15, 2019Updated on October 06, 2023
At just 27 years old, Victoria Vallenilla has taken over the brigade of the COYA Monte-Carlo, which for the past seasons has been sublimating the great classics of Peruvian cuisine with delicate touches of Asian gastronomy. The Venezuelan, who grew up in the Caribbean, has become the Resort and COYA restaurant group’s first female chef. While continuing to excel at the helm of the renowned restaurant, the Chef is now shining as the chef and creator of TAERA Monte-Carlo, an ephemeral Venezuelan pop-up in the Patio of the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo. Meet the talented chef at the helm of this brand new concept!
Victoria dreamed of being an architect as a child but rapidly climbed the kitchen ladder after distinguishing herself at hotel studies in Nice. In 2015, she was a finalist in the TV cooking competition Objectif Top Chef. She trained with Michelin-starred chefs Joël Garault and Benoit Witz after joining the Vistamar at the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, before moving to Alain Ducasse’s Trattoria to enrich her experience. While travelling in Dubai, she discovered COYA’s fusion cuisine. Seduced by the concept, she immediately applied to the COYA Monte-Carlo in 2018 and quickly became chef Fabrizio Fossati’s sous chef.
It was an opportunity to reconnect with the flavours of her youth. “Food is about feelings. I am far from my country. I miss it. It’s a comfort to cook the dishes that take me back to my childhood ". It’s also an opportunity to pay tribute to her child-minder Guadalupe, “an extraordinary cook, who used to prepare lunch for 20 people every day”. Guadalupe was the inspiration for Victoria’s corn empanadas. They are on the COYA Monte-Carlo menu and will soon be on the menu in all COYA restaurants around the world...
The Venezuelan has created other novelties such as crispy chicken popcorn, cooked up after a two-day marinading process. She likes cooking dishes that are naturally light and healthy, with umami, the famous fifth flavour «that rouses the palate and sparkles in your mouth».
Victoria practices foodpairing — the molecular analysis that allows her to develop the best culinary combinations — to create flavour trees. During the March 2020 lockdown, she also took up vegetarian cooking, devising original and nutritious vegan recipes — Arroz Chauffa to name but one — made with seitan, a wheat gluten-based protein to replace tofu. “My work satisfies me so much. It’s a passion, a hobby”, enthuses the young woman who spends at least 12 to 14 hours each day in the kitchen passing on her knowledge to her teams. “It’s an essential investment, synonymous with mouthfeel for customers”.
A clientele already won over by the colourful sparkling atmosphere of this festive restaurant, which also offers signature cocktails, tequilas, and rare vintage rums.
Victoria Vallenilla, a precious star of the Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer group, now shines as the chef and creator of TAERA Monte-Carlo. Originally from Venezuela, she has charted a remarkable path within the Group, illustrating a true success story. She's someone who believes in her dreams, in her country, and in the magic of cooking to tell stories.
The chef has been entrusted with the creation of TAERA Monte-Carlo, a deliciously arty ephemeral concept, crafted with passion and a unique vision. She is driven by authenticity and creativity, and her career has been marked by perseverance and an unwavering commitment to excellence. This fusion testifies her ability to juggle the two roles with mastery, bringing a touch of culinary magic to each of her establishments.