QMIN Magazine

#QInsider With Richard Sandoval

Richard Sandoval, Chef/Restaurateur

Sandoval started out as a professional tennis player, but his love of food took him off the court and into the kitchen. He enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America, and Upon graduation, he gained the attention of New Yorkers with his contemporary French restaurants, Savann and Savann Est. In 1997, he returned to his roots and opened Maya, his flagship modern Mexican restaurant in New York. Named “25 Coolest Multi-concept Companies,” Richard Sandoval Restaurants (RSR) is now a leading international restaurant group with over 35 concepts spanning Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C., as well as in Dubai, Mexico, Qatar and Serbia.


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Growing up in Mexico City, Richard Sandoval would join his grandmother in the kitchen and gather around her large table with family to enjoy lively Mexican feasts prepared from scratch. From his grandmother, he learned to respect fresh, authentic, ingredients and to create the vibrant flavors that turned family dinners into celebrated events. Meanwhile, his restaurateur father – owner of Madeiras in Acapulco and Villa Fiore also in Acapulco – imparted lessons in service and restaurant management.

Sandoval, who was once a professional tennis player and had toured the world participating in prestigious matches, had such a passion for food that he decided to enroll in the Culinary Institute of America. Upon graduation, he gained the attention of New Yorkers with his contemporary French restaurants, Savann and Savann Est. Soon, though, he returned to his first love – the food of his childhood and in 1997 he opened Maya, his flagship modern Mexican restaurant in New York.

During the past 15 years, Sandoval’s career as a chef and restaurateur has evolved to include serving as a culinary consultant, television personality, cookbook author and brand ambassador. Richard Sandoval Restaurants (RSR) is now a leading international restaurant group with over 40 concepts spanning Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C., as well as in Dubai, Hong Kong, Mexico, Tokyo, Qatar and Serbia. Restaurant Hospitality recently named Richard Sandoval Restaurant’s as one of the “25 Coolest Multi-concept Companies.”

With the broad range of restaurants in his portfolio, Chef Sandoval combines authentic Latin ingredients with international flavors and inventive techniques, to create new and unexpected concepts and cuisines such as modern and coastal Mexican, Latin-Asian, Peruvian and Pan-Latin. Chef Sandoval has entered into creative partnerships over the years. In 2003, he opened Pampano in New York City with world-renowned opera star Plácido Domingo. In 2013 he partnered with Peruvian chef Jaime Pesaque of Mayta restaurant in Lima to open Raymi, also in New York City.

In Washington, D.C., Sandoval partnered with noted sushi chef Kaz Okochi and restaurateur to open Masa 14, El Centro D.F., El Centro D.F. Georgetown, as well as to consult on Ambar, the city’s first Eastern European restaurant. In February of last year, Sandoval opened a new DC location of his award-winning restaurant and nightlife concept, Toro Toro. In January of this year, Sandoval partnered with the innovative Thai culinary brand, Mango Tree to open their first concept in the United States in Washington, D.C.’s City Center.

Sandoval also introduced Pan-Latin cuisine to Serbia with the opening of Toro Latin Gastrobar in Belgrade, which was named “Best Restaurant in Serbia” by Tripadvisor.

Sandoval has developed menus for American Airlines First Class cabin, as well as many of the world’s leading hotels. A frequent participant at international food and wine festivals, Sandoval’s recent television appearances include competing on the fifth season of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters.”

When not cooking, Sandoval is passionate about training the chefs of the future. He supports their growth on the Board of Trustees at his alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America. For his work, he has been awarded Mexico’s National Toque d’Oro 2003, Bon Appétit Restaurateur of the Year 2006 and Cordon d’Or Restaurateur of the Year 2012. In 2013, Market Watch named him “On Premise Player of the Year 2013.”

Career highlights include:

  • 2015 – Toro Toro Dubai named “Best Latin American Restaurant” Time Out Magazine
  • 2014 – “King of Latin Fusion” – Modern Luxury Magazine
  • 2013 – Toro Latin Gastrobar named “Best Restaurant in Serbia” by Tripadvisor
  • 2013 – RSR named 25 Coolest Multi-concept Companies by Restaurant Hospitality
  • 2013 – Richard Sandoval named “On Premise Player of the Year 2013” by Market Watch
  • 2013 – El Centro D.F. “Best Latin American Cuisine” Washingtonian Magazine
  • 2012 – Al Lado “Best Newcomer” by Eater
  • 2011 – Semi-finalist James Beard “Outstanding Restaurateur”
  • 2011 – Semi-finalist Cordon d’Or “Restaurateur of the Year”
  • 2011 – Raya recognized as “Restaurant of the Year” by Riviera Orange County
  • 2011 – Pampano voted “Best Seafood” by Time Out, Doha
  • 2011 – La Biblioteca listed as “Top 25 Tequila Bars” by USA Today
  • 2009 – La Hacienda votes “Best Upscale Mexican Restaurant” by Phoenix New Times
  • 2007 – Maya, Dubai – MENA’s Best Fine Dining Restaurant
  • 2006 – Bon Appétit’s “Restaurateur of the Year”
  • 2004 – Zengo “Best New Restaurant in America” Esquire Magazine
  • 2003 – Named one of New York Magazine’s “Best Chefs of 2003”
  • 2003 – Pampano awarded two stars by The New York Times
  • 1997 – Maya awarded two stars by The New York Times
  • 1992 – National Toque d’Oro, Mexican Chef of the Year

Richard Sandoval Restaurants include: 

ARIZONA

La Hacienda – Fairmont Princess, Scottsdale

CALIFORNIA

Raya – Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Venga Venga, Chula Vista

COLORADO

Maya – Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, Beaver Creek

La Sandia, Northfield Stapleton

La Sandia, Park Meadows

Tamayo, Denver

Venga Venga, Snowmass Village

Zengo, Denver

La Biblioteca, Denver

FLORIDA

Toro Toro – InterContinental Miami

GEORGIA

Zocalo, Atlanta

MEXICO

Bahia – Four Seasons, Punta Mita

Aramara – Four Seasons, Punta Mita

Ketsi – Four Seasons, Punta Mita

NEW YORK

La Biblioteca, New York City

Maya, New York City

Pampano, New York City

Raymi, New York City

Zengo, New York City

NEVADA

The Commissary Latin Kitchen by Richard Sandoval, Las Vegas

HONG KONG

Toro GastroBar – Kowloon

 QATAR

Toro Toro, Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl – Doha

Pampano, Doha

 SERBIA

Toro Latin Gastrobar, Belgrade

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Maya – Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai

Toro Toro – Grosvenor House, Dubai

Zengo, Méridien Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai

VIRGINIA

La Sandia, McLean, VA (Tyson’s Corner Center)

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Ambar

El Centro D.F.

El Centro D.F. Georgetown

Masa 14

Toro Toro

Zengo

Restaurants scheduled for opening:

Toro Toro, New York City, Spring 2015

Restaurants under negotiation:

Mero Mero, Ritz Carlton, Philadelphia, 2015