Chef Sandoval sees global growth for Latin cuisine

Tue Sep 7, 2010 3:14pm EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Chef Richard Sandoval, despite tough economic times, believes there is plenty of enthusiasm worldwide for food from his native Mexico and other parts of Latin America.

Sandoval, who owns more than 15 restaurants including one in Dubai, opened two eateries next to each other in Santa Monica, California in August.

La Sandia features his modern twists on Mexican dishes, while Zengo showcases his fusion of Latin and Asian flavors.

The 42-year-old Mexican City native spoke to Reuters about the state of Latin cuisine and the restaurant industry.

Q: Why did you open two restaurants in the same space? Isn't it a big gamble in this environment?

A: "Due to the recession and everything, it didn't make sense to do this one concept. I thought it would be too big to have one restaurant there. I thought about sub-dividing the space, having two separate restaurants. I got a great deal. It was a joint venture between me and the mall. I still feel in times like these you can position yourself for the next 10 years."

Q: How are La Sandia and Zengo different?

A: "They are completely different concepts. They are completely different designs. There are no similarities. They do not compete with each other at all. If you want Mexican, you would walk into the Mexican one. If you want more of a fusion, you would go into Zengo."   Continued...

<p>Richard Sandoval poses for a photograph in this handout photo taken on August 24, 2010. REUTERS/Peden + Munk/Handout</p>