Meet Stephanie Bonnin - Chef owner of La TropiKitchen in New York

Updated: Feb 1

An exploration of the ancestral gastronomic traditions of Colombia that gathers people, and raises awareness for the protection of the environment.

Photo: courtesy Stephanie Bonnin

“Food heals. Food is a therapy”

Colombia native Stephanie Bonnin was set to become a lawyer. When she decided that she wouldn’t and that she wanted to pursue a career in the food industry, her family was very apprehensive. Where she comes from, being a Chef isn’t a career - she says. She decided to move to the US, where her journey as an immigrant was filled with novelties, experiences, and opportunities. In 2014, her father passed away, sending her into a depression that lasted two years. She found her way out through cooking, that she describes as a therapy. As she was feeling home sick, she started to explore her gastronomic origins closer to her home country. She then attended the Institute of Culinary Education, which set her foot in the stirrup to a career path that quickly led her to work in some of New York's most renowned fine dining establishments, including Cosme. Inspired by the world’s most famous and talented Chefs, such as Daniela Soto Innes, who she trained with, Bonnin decided to launch her own business.

La TropiKitchen, a pop-up dining series that she hosts at her home, turns Colombian cuisine into a food experience that gathers New Yorkers in an intimate setting. Proud of being a Latina woman, her curiosity and pugnacity have led her to realize her dreams: explore culinary traditions, cooking, and bringing people together. A visionary and passionate about innovation, her journey as an entrepreneur will surely not stop there, she’s one of these under-the-radar chefs you need to know around NY.

Welcome Stephanie to Chefs for Impact!

By Stephanie Bonnin as told to Chefs for Impact

What brought you to launch La TropiKitchen in NY?

“I went to law school, but I quickly realized that I didn't want to become a lawyer, let alone in such a corrupt country as Colombia. I decided to go back to school to learn English. During this transition time where I was learning a new language, a new culture, I met my husband who got a job in NYC. I feel so blessed to be in that city that gives you the opportunity to do so many things. But when my dad passed away, I was so depressed, I was really confused and so home sick. That’s how I started to cook, as a therapy. I found in cooking a way to reconnect with my Colombian origins. I started inviting friends over before going to culinary school, it was a hard decision for me to make, because I was afraid my passion become a career, and become discouraged about it.”