Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Richard Sandoval grew up surrounded by Mexican culture and food. His father, a successful restaurateur, instilled in him a passion for the cuisine of his heritage and the art of hospitality. From the age of 12, Richard worked in his father’s highly regarded restaurants Madeiras and Villa Fiore restaurants, confirming his desire to be a chef.
After living in California where Sandoval learned to appreciate the ingredients indigenous to the area, he enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America. Upon graduation, Sandoval returned to his father’s kitchens, immersing himself in the cuisine of his homeland where he was ultimately awarded the National Toque d’Oro, Chef of the Year.
The energy and challenge of New York City beckoned and Richard Sandoval made a splash – not with Mexican cuisine – but with a modern French menu at the successful Savann, followed by Savann Est. While Sandoval gained attention at each of these restaurants his passion for the foods of his native Mexico took hold and in 1997 he opened Maya to widespread acclaim. It was Maya that enabled Sandoval to introduce New Yorkers to the exciting, bold and flavorful foods that have become known as Modern Mexican, and it is Chef Sandoval who has redefined Mexican cuisine. Richard Sandoval and the restaurant soon became local culinary celebrities earning a rave 2-Star review from The New York Times. Maya, San Francisco soon followed and earned 3-stars from the ever-discerning San Francisco Chronicle.
In 2001, Richard Sandoval headed west to bring his inventive style of gourmet Mexican cooking to an initially skeptical Denver, Colorado audience. Tamayo, with its casual take on refined Mexican cuisine, captured the hearts (and stomachs) of food- and fun-loving Denver and Richard Sandoval became a household name. The recently launched Zengo (February 2004), which received a glowing 3 ˝ -star review in The Denver Post, is poised to do the same with innovative Latin-Asian cuisine.
Back in New York, Sandoval partnered with famed opera star Placido Domingo to bring Modern Mexican seafood to midtown with Pampano. This beautiful restaurant specializing in the coastal cuisines of Mexico received a brilliant 2-star review from The New York Times and was voted one of “The Best New Restaurants in America” by Esquire magazine. That same year Sandoval was named one of the “Best Chefs of 2003” in New York Magazine, further solidifying his reputation as the Modern Mexican chef in America.
2004 has been a banner year for Richard Sandoval and his Modern Mexican group. Isla Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar, a brilliant collaboration with internationally renowned hospitality designer, Jeffrey Beers, brought the flavors and spirit of Mexico to Treasure Island (TI) in Las Vegas. In 2005, Sandoval has brought Zengo to Washington, DC and launch into the international arena when he opens Hip Kitchen in Hippodromo Boutique Hotel, in Mexico City; and Maya in Dubai.
Richard Sandoval has been a pioneer bringing refined Mexican food to this country. By redefining this historic cuisine he has become a leader in the upscale Latin culinary movement. He is a revolutionary in his own culinary way, cooking with such innovation and refinement that Modern Mexican Cuisine is now recognized as one of the great culinary experiences, sentiments once reserved for French, Italian or Japanese food.