Chef Richard Sandoval: Every day can be humbling
Part one of my interview with chef Richard Sandoval, who owns and operates dozens of restaurants around the world, including seven in Colorado, ran yesterday; this is part two of that interview.
Most memorable meal you've ever had: Seventeen years ago, I had dinner at Lespinasse in New York City, and it was pure, old-fashioned luxury with extraordinary food. Gary Koonz was the chef at the time, and while I don't remember the exact dishes, I do remember the combinations of flavors, colorful presentations and crisp and fresh ingredients. It was the first time I'd seen a chef combine French cooking techniques with global ingredients; that was a great inspiration to me.
Favorite restaurant in America: I love the concept of the large open-air food-market concepts, like Eataly in New York City and Andres Market in Bogotá, Colombia. You can wander around at your leisure and taste so many different things and make an evening out of tasting and sharing a great variety of dishes. It's almost like the next step in small plates.
Favorite cheap eat in Denver/Boulder: Other than my own restaurant, La Sandia, I really like Centro Latin Kitchen and Refreshment Palace in Boulder. I'm inspired by fresh Latin flavors, and Centro serves them in a totally laid-back atmosphere. I appreciate the chef's use of authentic ingredients.
If you only had 24 hours in Denver/Boulder, where would you eat? Like most Denver diners, I'm a big fan of Frank Bonanno, so I'd go to Bones for lunch, because I love Bonanno's creative use of Asian ingredients and flavor profiles, plus the restaurant is fun, playful and delicious. And I'd go the Kitchen for dinner. That crew serves great, classic dishes with fresh, flavorful ingredients; the design is simple but beautiful and effective; and everything is totally approachable, comfortable and delicious. It's the type of place you can eat at a few times a week.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: More street food, like we have in the big cities and Latin America. Street foods from around the world would be a great starting point for a few new concepts.
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Burger restaurants. The burger boom has run its course. I'd like to see something new on the culinary scene.
Food trend you wish would disappear: Molecular gastronomy. While fascinating, the cuisine isn't necessarily flavorful; it's very hit or miss, and once you start playing with chemicals, you're changing the true identity of the ingredients. Organic farm-to-table is more my style, and I prefer to showcase ingredients for what they are -- not mask them.