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Richard Sandoval Hosts a Dia de Los Muertos Dinner
The chef honors his ancestry with a special dinner series, available worldwide
Richard Sandoval has a culinary empire that includes dozens of restaurants located in 11 countries (and 10 states in the U.S.). Sandoval, who is a champion of Latin cooking, first discovered his passion at his grandmother’s kitchen in Mexico City, where he would join her as she prepared traditional dishes from scratch. His passion was fueled under the tutelage of his father, a restaurateur who owned several restaurants in Mexico City.
Sandoval pays homage to his family traditions — and honors his ancestors — with a Dia de Los Muertos dinner series. The dinner is offered at all of his 60-plus restaurants worldwide including Toro Toro at the Intercontinental Miami Hotel, where I was invited to a preview dinner, hosted by Sandoval, himself.
Sandoval explains that in Mexico, Dia de Los Muertos is a time to remember loved ones who have died. “It’s important for us to not forget family. We create altars (ofrendas) filled with pictures, flowers, and candles,” says Sandoval. And, like nearly all rituals in all cultures, food plays a major role in the tradition. “The whole family gets together and we cook dishes that the people who passed loved to eat. If they liked tequila, we pour some on the ground so they can have some with us. We gather, we eat, and talk about them, and we remember. That’s how we keep them alive.”
Sandoval says the dishes offered at the special dinner were recommended by employees who work at his various restaurants. “We ask people from within the company to propose dishes that remind them of their family, and we choose the final dishes. It’s exciting for people to see their family dishes served.”
The meal starts with a blood orange mezcal margarita and conversation before the first dish is served. Though they’re chicken and queso empanadas with a masa shell, instead of the usual flour, Sandoval says in Mexico’s markets, they’re considered quesadillas. “This is a street food, and you’ll see the ladies pressing the masa by hand,” he adds.
A center-cut steak with a poblano mole sauce on a bed of squash puree follows. Sandoval says that while the mole poblano might be one of the most popular, there are dozens of moles, with each region having its own version. “Many families have mole recipes with secret ingredients that are passed down from generation to generation,” he adds.
Finally, a pumpkin creme brulee is served with cinnamon ice cream and caramelized pumpkin seeds.
The special celebration runs from October 3 through November 3. To find a participating restaurant, visit richardsandoval.com.