What is in this article?:
- Catching up with Richard Sandoval in Aspen
- Father's Day dishes; Peruvian cuisine
This is part of NRN's special coverage of the 2013 Food & Wine Classic held in Aspen, Colo., June 14-16.
Restaurant Hospitality editor-in-chief Michael Sanson discussed healthy menus, tequila and Top Chef with the busy restaurateur.
RH: You're now working with a nutritionist to create "Latin Light" menu items that are all under 500 calories. What was behind this move?
Sandoval: It's a trend to eat healthier and people are more aware of what they put in their mouth. La Sandia is more of a family restaurant, so I wanted to offer these menu items, and I had the help of a chef friend who took my menu items and tested them for calorie count. We're testing these at all four of the La Sandia locations. If they're a success, we may do the same at other restaurants.
RH: You always have something new brewing. We hear that you're getting into the tequila business with George Clooney and Rande Gerber. What's the story behind this venture?
Sandoval: I'm a big tequila aficionado. It's my drink of choice. Rande Gerber and George Clooney created a tequila, Casamigos. Rande and George have houses in Cabo and they've been drinking this great tequila for 10 years and smuggling it into the States. So finally they asked me to help bottle it. I've worked before with Rande at a couple restaurants and I know he and George know their stuff when it comes to tequila. It's on the market right now.
RH: You'll also be competing in the fifth season of Top Chef Masters on Bravo next month. I would think that at this point in your career you have nothing to prove.
Sandoval: They called me and invited me. I thought it was very interesting and I thought it would be a lot of fun, and it was. This was filmed quite some time back and a winner was named, but I can't talk about it.
RH: As far as your company goes, you've not only spread yourself all over the country with restaurants, but now you're in far-flung international locations. How do you keep up with it all?
Sandoval: I have 37 restaurants and 10 different brands. But going from one to two restaurants and two to three was more difficult than adding restaurants now. It's never easy opening a restaurant, but it's easier. I have a great team and a great corporate office and it's what I love to do. Of course I do it for financial rewards, but I truly love this industry and I won't stop until I start putting out bad restaurants.