6/29/2012 01:39:00 PM

Richard Sandoval on His Restaurant Empire, the Doritos Loco Taco and More

Richard Sandoval, who recently opened the Peruvian-inspired Raymi in NYC's Flatiron District is perhaps the quietest restaurant mogul in the business. As he puts it, most people have never heard of him (on a national scale) yet the chef/restaurateur owns over 30 restaurants worldwide including several in the Middle East. Is it the fact that he's never done a show like Top Chef Masters or Iron Chef  that precludes him from household-name status? Perhaps. But one thing's for sure, the multi-talented toque (and once aspiring professional tennis player) has a bonafide restaurant empire that features all different styles of cuisine, including his signature take on Latin-Asian fusion.

We caught up with the very busy Sandoval recently to talk about Peruvian food, world domination and even what he thinks about those Doritos Locos tacos. Check out our chat with him below.

Zagat: Tell us a little about your newest project, Raymi. What was the inspiration?
You know when I was hiring people for my restaurant in Dubai, I took a trip to South America, spent some time in Peru and enjoyed the food and become very good friends with Jaime [Raymi's co-owner/chef]. After a few months, we chatted, I really enjoyed the restaurant and the food and we talked about doing a Peruvian restaurant together in the U.S. I've always loved Peruvian ceviches, anticuchos, so we agreed to do all this stuff together and then once we found the location, it all fell into place from there.

Zagat: How did you cultivate your signature style of Latin-Asian cuisine?
Before I became a chef, I wanted to become a professional tennis player and I traveled a lot all over the world after college playing and spent some time in Asia. I acquired a love for Asian food and I always felt like Asian and Latin had very similar flavor profiles - the spicy, the sweet, for me it was kind of a natural pairing of cuisines to be blended together.

Zagat: As the NY Times said, Peruvian cuisine is "having a moment" right now, why do you think it has become so popular?
I think people don't know much about Peruvian cuisine, they read about it, you know La Mar opened but and I think everyone knows ceviche, and I think Nobu after he kind of made a crossroads in terms of incorporating Japanese food with Peruvian ingredients. It's a light food, it's a flavorful food, I think people really enjoy the flavor profiles.

Zagat: Why did you expand to the Middle East?
Dubai is kind of on the cutting edge of the world right now so when I was approached, it was very interesting what was happening there. I wanted to be a part of that.

Zagat: What do you think about food TV, would you ever do a show like Top Chef Masters?
I would do it, I've been asked to shows before but I haven't been able to do any because of time. As a chef I also run my company, I'm involved in a lot. A lot of chefs are managing partners and maybe they run one side of it, and maybe focus more on TV and other stuff. I pretty much run my company. Right now it has a lot to do with time. At some point I would love to. A lot of people really don't know what I do and how many restaurants I have, and I think it's always good for the restaurants when more people can see what you're doing.

Zagat: What advice would you give to a young chef?
I would recommend to go work in a restaurant before you decide to make it your career. Make sure you have passion and make sure you really love it because, you know they say it's a profession that chooses you. I think most sane people would not choose the restaurant industry. It's very complicated, very long hours,it's hot, when everyone's on vacation you're working, etc. But once you're in it and you love it, it's the best feeling in the world.

Zagat:Who do you most admire?
I think Nobu, what he did with Peruvian and Japanese cuisines I think was amazing. Also I very much admire Thomas Keller.

Zagat: What's next on your radar?
I'm currently doing a wine bar, we'll be opening in the end of July. I'm doing a restaurant at the Continental in Miami in November. We're opening a restaurant in the beginning of December at the Fairmont in Scottdale, AZ, called Embers, it's going to be American wood-fired cuisine. 

Zagat: What do you eat when no one's looking?
I love tacos. Give me any restaurant in the world, put some rice and beans in a tortilla and that's my favorite. 

Zagat: What do you think about the Doritos Locos Taco at Taco Bell?
[Laughs] I think it's kind of genius marketing, I know that they're banking on it, I don't know if it's going to work out! My only thing too, is like, aren't consumers smarter than that these days?

Zagat: Apparently not. 

1 comment :

  1. In your 10 best restaurants of the Hamptons, several have a Brooklyn address. Why is that?