A permanent member of the downtown La Esquina restaurant family, Claudette waited on celebrities and NY socialites for years to pay off her university schooling. Her thesis at the New School was titled “Theatre of the Immigrant”, proposing theatre as a tool for re-telling Mexican immigration to the U.S. She now works on the global stage that is the United Nations with the Mexican delegation, focusing on the economy and migration. In her spare time, she has developed Nube Indigo, a jewelry line inspired by clouds that she calls “anthropological fieldwork.”
Place of Birth: Monterrey, Nuevo Léon but I was raised in San Miguel de Allende.
Parents: Claudette Manllo Kalifa y Eduardo Walls del Pino. My mom is from Monterrey, Mexico and my dad is from Valparaiso, Chile.
Occupation/Aspiration: Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations/Globe Trekker TV show host.
When did you move to NYC and why?
In 2005, to study my BA in Social Anthropology/Theater at The New School. I searched for a place I could pursue a career combination of the performing arts and the chaotic world of men/women in society.
Which neighborhood do you live in and why?
Prospect Heights. I am a Brooklyn lover and cheap rent.
Name a New York moment:
While I was a waitress at La Esquina, I got to wait on Salma Hayek once. After several margaritas, she asked me to walk her to a less-crowded restroom; I took her to the employees’ one. She offered me an American Spirit and we chatted about our life plans while sharing a cigarette. We took pictures with my cell phone, and she even asked me for my number. I’m still waiting for her phone call. Jajajaja!
How do you keep it Mex in the City?
By attending events like the “Reina de la Primavera” drag queen contest at Atlantis Club in Jackson Heights and bringing flowers every year on 12th December to the Virgen de Guadalupe at 14th Street and 8th Ave.
Share the best piece of advice a close relative or someone dear to you gave you?
“Always believe in the healing power of praying” – My dad aka my Tai Chi instructor.
What's your drink of choice?
Name three songs on your mind right now:
Daft Punk: “Voyager”, Belle and Sebastian: “We Are the Sleepyheads”, and The Clash: “Rock the Casbah”.
Name your favorite past time.
To buy cookbooks and spend hours at the supermarket.
Tell us your favorite Mexican expression:
“Me dejaste con el Jesús en la boca”
What Mexican do you most admire and why?
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. The first woman to go to the University in Mexico.