Chef Clay Carnes Opening Latin Street Food Eatery

Executive Chef Clay Carnes, one of Palm Beach County’s hottest current chefs, recently announced a brand-new concept opening soon in downtown West Palm Beach.

Cholo Soy Cocina, slated to open this summer, will serve a new kind of Latin street food. Carnes will be armed with locally grown produce and top-quality meats and ingredients, along with his well-known no-nonsense approach to cooking, and will be serving up tantalizing Andean-American selections and tacos crafted from freshly made Florida organic white corn tortillas.

“Cholo Soy is our brand’s name. ‘Cholo’ is a slang term in Ecuador for the indigenous people. It also means something ‘mixed or ghetto.’ I came across it written on a wall in a Peruvian restaurant. At that point it hit me, ‘This is perfect!’” Carnes explained. “I like the open-ended feel of it as it reflects our cuisine here as ‘mixed’ and indigenous or authentic.”

The French Culinary Institute and ALMA (La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana) graduate made his start as chef de cuisine at Cucina Dell’ Arte in Palm Beach. From there, he transplanted to Cuenca, Ecuador, leading the team at the boutique hotel Mansion Alcazar.

Carnes returned to South Florida in 2011 to open the Grille in Wellington. He then took the reins as the executive chef of the White Horse Tavern, where he feeds the highly discerning, elite equestrian set.

Known for an eclectic cuisine that reflects his Italian, Mediterranean, Latin and North American exposure, Carnes recently reigned victorious on the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen.

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

He is excited to not only provide Cholo Soy Cocina’s offerings in the restaurant, but also at the West Palm Beach Green Market. The restaurant will also do large to-go style food, including catering and ticket-only “puerta cerrada” style dinners once or twice a month with local guest chefs from all around the state.

“We’ll work with local farms and purveyors and use a lot of dry grains and ingredients so we won’t be limited to seasonality,” Carnes said. “We will really concentrate on growing our own peppers, herbs and other vegetables on our patio and rooftop garden.”

Surroundings in the 600-square-foot restaurant will be intimate, with just a dozen seats, including standing room at the counter. Carnes also has some surprises for the space, which will be located at 3715 S. Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach.

To learn more, follow the restaurant on Instagram @cholosoycocina or sign up for e-mails by visiting

ABOVE: Clay Carnes