MEET THE MAN OF MAYA
World renowned restaurateur, Richard Sandoval, brings another delicious and stylish concept to Doha’s food and social scene at the Kempinski Residences & Suites. FACT caught up with the celebrity food maestro to learn more about his new concept and opening, Maya…
You decided on the Kempinski Residences & Suites as your chosen property to house the venue. What sealed the deal for you to go with this 5-star city hotel?
I have worked with Kempinski before and enjoy working with the company a lot – they are extremely professional and always deliver incredible results. I also felt the location was perfect for a Mexican restaurant
Describe for us what Latin hospitality means to you – why is Mexican food synonymous with warm, inviting gatherings?
Growing up, my grandmother would serve huge feasts – pretty much everything revolved around food. She would sit at the head of the table surrounded by about fifteen family members, and everything was served family-style and was passed & shared. I wanted to emulate that same experience with every guest that dines in my restaurants. Latin culture is all about using food as a gathering or a way to bring people together – an experience that is meant to be shared & savored. Food should be comforting and bring us back to our roots.
What inspires you to keep cooking after so many years in the industry?
The thrill of teaching budding chefs – they are the future! I am also very lucky to be part of an industry that is ever changing and this evolution keeps me on my toes. Never a dull moment.
We’re excited to have MAYA here in Doha. What made you choose the Qatari capital to open the venue here?
I have opened a few restaurants in Doha, and I really enjoy the city. I like to expand business in communities that I feel have embraced my restaurants and my vision – and Doha is certainly one of those communities.
What can diners expect to taste, enjoy and experience when visiting MAYA – what are some of the signature dishes and drinks?
Maya’s menu showcases my take on traditional Mexican recipes using high quality ingredients. Appetizers include my traditional guacamole and a Tuna Guacamole made with fresh tuna tartare and serrano chili, alongside seafood and vegetable ceviches. Signature dishes will include Carne Asada, Salmon en Mole Negro and Chamorro de Cordero – a braised lamb shank with adobo sauce, pickled red onions and coriander leaves.
MAYA is described as “Mexican dining with an innovative and contemporary twist” – how has Mexican cuisine evolved alongside the growth of the restaurant industry – do you have to change things to suit certain markets and palates?
My motto is “Old Ways, New Hands,” describing my cooking style which combines authentic Latin ingredients and flavors modern cooking techniques to create an unexpected and exciting Latin dining experience. I am constantly adapting those new techniques and flavors based on the city that I am opening a restaurant in and the constantly evolving culinary trends. I always want to keep people coming back!. Its also important to note that Mexican Cuisine has evolved from being mostly a casual market cuisine to a cuisine that embodies all the ingredients of a cuisine that is modern and taking the world by storm.
What’s the greatest honour or compliment you’ve received as a chef?
My James Beard Nomination; but the most important compliment is all the people that keep coming back to my restaurants to see my work.
You’re a busy man – television cook shows, running a 50-restaurant strong empire and opening new venues too – do you still enjoy the grind?
I am all about adrenaline – so this profession suits me well. After opening over 50 restaurants, I am trying to cut back and spend more time with my family in the upcoming years. I’d also like to work with my children to someday take over the business – my daughter is studying Hospitality at cornelll univerity and my son will be enrolling at the Culinary Institute of America, so I am very excited to see them grow in this industry.
As a world-famous chef, what matters more – taste or presentation?
Both! But if I had to pick, it’d be taste. Taste is what people remember for years after a meal – and that’s a memory I want to give all my guests when they visit my restaurants. Share with us your tips for preparing the perfect tortilla… Fresh masa and Using a cast iron comal.
Do you have any quick advice for young budding chefs?
You’ll struggle in this business without passion. It’s essential to your success in this industry. TV has really glamourised the Chef profession lately – so my advice would be to understand that there’s a lot of moving parts and a rough daily grind that’s not shown on television. I think one should work from the bottom up in the industry to really understand all the moving parts and what it takes to be a Chef. ✤
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