Chef Richard Sandoval:
What inspired you to become a chef?

I grew up in Mexico City, so our family dinners consisted of everyone gathering around my grandmother’s table for large, lively meals. I loved spending time with my grandmother, especially in the kitchen where I watched her prepare authentic Mexican feats from scratch. My father was a restaurateur, so between him and my grandmother, my upbringing was always focused around food and restaurant management. 

What was the most important thing you learned from your grandmother?

My grandmother taught me how to respect ingredients and to not be intimidated by them. She taught me that by using fresh, authentic ingredients you could pack every dish with vibrant flavours. 

Where did you go to culinary school?

I went to the Culinary Institute of America in New York, where I later went on to open my first modern Mexican restaurant; Maya. Mexican food hadn’t really gone through a growth or wasn’t showing the world how fantastic it truly was so I wanted to showcase it and do it justice, which is why I opened Maya. My second modern Mexican concept; Tamayo opened in 2001 in Denver.

Why is food so important to you?

Food is a powerful tool for so many different reasons. You can educate through food, you can show love through food, or like my grandmother’s table, you can turn family dinners into celebrated events through food.

Through my diverse restaurants, I’ve managed to educate people all over the world  about the potential of Latin cuisine. Each of my restaurants combines authentic Latin ingredients with international flavours and inventive culinary techniques that create a new and quite unexpected Latin dining experience.   

Through Toro Toro in Dubai for example, the restaurant is used as a platform to expose South American food to the community. One culture should always experience the flavours and tastes of another culture. At Toro Toro, the texture of the furniture and interiors also act as a tool to give one a full Latin Amercican dining experience. 

What tips would you give a budding chef?

Always taste and learn about your ingredients. You must build your pallet so don’t forget to taste!

What’s your favourite sense?

You should use all of your senses when you are cooking. Flavour, balance and texture all work together to create a dish so make sure to use all of your senses.  

What’s your favourite ingredient?

Chilies without a doubt. I love how you can do so much with this one ingredient. It’s not always about the heat, but you can work with a chili in so many different ways through roasting it, frying it or grilling it for example. 

Recipes of the month
Spinach and Meatballs
Fresh Tuna Salad
The Perfect Power Breakfast
Green Tea Soaked Salmon Fillet with Lemon Sauce