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Cholo Soy Cocina By Food Network 'Cutthroat Kitchen' Winner Chef Clay Carnes To Open In West Palm Beach This Summer

A new Latin street food restaurant from a winner of Food Network's "Cutthroat Kitchen" is coming to West Palm Beach this summer.

Cholo Soy Cocina, which is set to open in the Antique Row District on South Dixie Highway, will serve Andean-style selections alongside handcrafted tacos made with Florida organic white corn tortillas. 

"We’re trying to up the ante here in South Florida for tacos," executive chef Clay Carnes said in a release. "We’re using locally grown, organic and non-GMO corn and handmade masa for our tortillas, which definitely sets us apart."

The restaurant name comes from the Ecuadorian slang term "cholo," which refers to indigenous people, but also means something "mixed or ghetto," he explained. 

"I came across it written on a wall in a Peruvian restaurant," Carnes said. "At that point, it hit me: 'This is perfect.' I like the open-ended feel of it as it reflects our cuisine here as 'mixed' and indigenous or authentic."

Known for his no-nonsense approach to cooking, Carnes helped open The Grille in Wellington and later became executive chef at White Horse Tavern, an American restaurant that was part of Wellington's Equestrian Club Estates. 

He also spent time working as the "chef ejecutivo" at a boutique hotel in Ecuador, won an episode of Food Network's "Cutthroat Kitchen," and appeared on "Camp Cutthroat," a five-episode special series with returning alumni who compete in the wilderness.

Carnes plans to work with local farms and purveyors, use dry grains and ingredients to avoid seasonality constraints, and grow his own peppers, herbs and other vegetables on the restaurant's patio and rooftop garden.

"[W]e are looking for specific flavors only found in certain regions of the world,” he said.

The intimate 600-square-foot restaurant will seat only a dozen guests and offer walk-up counter service. Guests can find a table, stand at the bar, or take food home.

Items from the Cholo Soy Cocina menu will be offered at the West Palm Beach Green Market and available for large catering orders as well.

Once or twice a month, Carnes will host "puerta cerrada" (closed-door) dinners at Cholo Soy Cocina, in which guest chefs from around the state will be invited into the restaurant to cook. These will be ticketed events.

Cholo Soy Cocina; 3175 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach

(Photo courtesy Cholo Soy Cocina)