Chef Q&A: Luis Sotelo, Head Chef/Kitchen Manager

Cocomo's Grill Chef Luis Sotelo displays a platter of Cocomo's signature Seared Tuna Nachos appetizer prepared with sushi grade tuna served over wonton chips and wakame salad  topped with ginger shreds, scallions and drizzled with wasabi mayo and seasoned green sauce.

Jenine C. Ouillette/Special to the Eagle

Cocomo's Grill Chef Luis Sotelo displays a platter of Cocomo's signature Seared Tuna Nachos appetizer prepared with sushi grade tuna served over wonton chips and wakame salad topped with ginger shreds, scallions and drizzled with wasabi mayo and seasoned green sauce.

Cocomo's Restaurant

945 N. Collier Blvd., Marco

Cocomo’s Grill, 945 Collier Blvd., Marco Island, phone: 394-3600

Began working at present restaurant:

I began working at Cocomo’s in September 2004. I started as prep and then was promoted to line cook and then to head chef/restaurant manager.

Who or what inspired you to become a chef/cook?

My mama was a wonderful, creative cook. I was the middle son in our family of five boys and five girls and I wanted to help her and she encouraged me and I learned her secrets with hands-on experience in our kitchen.

What was your first restaurant job?

I came to Marco in 1995 when I got a job offer and began working at Vito’s that used to be located near Pier 81 condos, but it’s no longer there.

How long have you been cooking professionally?

About 13 years.

How would you describe your cooking style?

I’d say creative American bistro spiced up with my Italian and Thai cooking background.

What is your most popular dish?

Our most popular menu items are seared tuna and Grouper — any style.

Where do you like to eat out on the island?

I really like to eat at home — my wife is a wonderful cook and she enjoys keeping me and our three children well-fed.

What is your favorite snack?

I don’t usually eat between meals, but my favorite meal is steak.

Do you cook at home? If so, what would we always find in your freezer?

Ice? I must mention that my wife likes to shop for fresh ingredients for the meals she prepares for our family.

What is your specialty? Why?

Here at Cocomo’s we have over 80 lunch and dinner specials that Scott Gibbs (Cocomo’s owner) and I created. If I had to pick any I’d say our fresh snapper with Key lime beurre blanc and fresh, home made salsa — it can also be served blackened or grilled or the grouper stuffed with crabmeat served sweet potato fries or black beans and rice and veggies.

What annoys you most in the kitchen?

We have a great team working in the kitchen and everyone knows what to do to keep things running smoothly.

What do you enjoy most about your profession?

I take a lot of pride in my position here at Cocomo’s — I’m happy when the customers are happy. I know this because we have a lot of repeat customers and many of them bring their friends.

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