Growing up near San Salvador, El Salvador, Chef Danio Somoza’s childhood food culture was one of home cooked meals packed with fresh produce. As a child, his family ate with the seasons, and while he may not have known it then, his early culinary experiences were forming the base of the food philosophy he follows today as he leads his kitchen at 99 Sea Level in Bethany Beach.
Somoza began his career at Bethany Blues, where he worked his way up the ladder, learning a variety of techniques. He is well versed in French, Asian, and American cuisine, so when he had the opportunity to come and open the ocean front restaurant, he knew it would be a perfect fit. At 99 Sea Level, he is able to let his passion for many cuisines shine through as he creates his menus.
Working as an executive chef, it is important to Somoza to have creative license to make food that is seasonal, beautiful and, yet, accessible to his guests. Guided by this farm to table principal, Somoza loves using his own enthusiasm for food to inspire others to try new things, and perhaps venture out of their comfort zone.
“Everything is refined,” Somoza explains, “so that people can try new things. Whether it’s to try a fresh oyster for the first time, or try something they are already familiar with, pairing it with a new wine.” The food is as exquisite as it is visually pleasing, and that’s just how Somoza likes it. Motivated by the scenic location and the invigorating sea air, Somoza hopes the joy he feels for life, as well as creation in the kitchen, shines through every dish he serves.