Mexican-born Santiago’s trajectory to full-time chef was far from traditional. A maths fanatic at school, his earliest passion was centred around problem-solving and research – traits he later used to the greatest effect in his professional life. However the transfer of this focus from mathematical equations to culinary aspirations, he simply attributes to a basic crab dip recipe he found on the back of a packet of crackers as a teenager.
Maths’ loss was the restaurant world’s gain and Santiago has become one of the most celebrated chefs of his generation. He studied at the Arte Culinario Coronado in Mexico, completed a Master’s Degree in Culinary Innovation at the Basque Culinary Centre in Spain and a development course at the Nordic Food Lab at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. With an inherent curiosity for problem-solving and research, the desire for more took Santiago across the globe building a repertoire of skills and knowledge that is unparalleled.
Before London, he worked with Andoni Aduriz at Mugaritz in San Sebastian and with Rene Redzepi and Noma on their 7-week residency in Mexico. He travelled extensively from Europe, S.E. Asia, Japan and Russia (27 countries in all), showcasing the diversity of Mexico’s recipes and cultural heritage, but using only ingredients sourced from each destination along the way.
Since opening KOL in 2020, the restaurant has captured the attention and been included in The World’s 50 Best, La Liste and Michelin as well as various British publications. Santiago was also awarded Best Chef at the GQ Food and Drink Awards 2021.