CateringNews Middle East - - Contents -

Chef Richard San­doval re­veals his plans for 2018.

After ex­pand­ing the suc­cess­ful Toro Toro brand in Abu Dhabi last year, Mex­i­can Chef and the face be­hind some of the world’s lead­ing Latin Amer­i­can restau­rants chef Richard san­doval tells Ma­hak Man­nan that the plan for 2018 is sus­tain­abil­ity not growth, in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view.

Over­see­ing the op­er­a­tions of over 52 Latin Amer­i­can restau­rants spread across the globe, Chef Richard San­doval opened the UAE’S first venue un­der the Toro Toro um­brella in 2011 at The Grosvenor House Dubai. Six years and a $5 mil­lion in­vest­ment later, Toro Toro opened doors to the Abu Dhabi din­ing scene in September last year.

“Toro Toro Abu Dhabi came about when Turab Saleem, my part­ner asked me if I was in­ter­ested in open­ing a branch in Abu Dhabi and showed me the lo­ca­tion in Jumeirah Eti­had Tow­ers. I felt the venue was one of the best ever and the rest is his­tory,” Chef San­doval says.

The brand Toro Toro was con­cep­tu­alised when Chef San­doval was look­ing at a Brazil­ian con­cept for the Grosvenor House Dubai, “I was asked to cre­ate a Brazil­ian Churas­que­ria for Grosvenor House but took a step fur­ther and cre­ated a mod­ern ver­sion of a Churas­que­ria in Toro Toro.

“To cre­ate the menu I drew in­flu­ences from my Mex­i­can her­itage and ex­ten­sive travel through Latin, South and Cen­tral Amer­ica,” Chef San­doval ex­plains.

“As a pro­fes­sional ten­nis player I spent a great deal of time trav­el­ling across South Amer­ica, vis­it­ing the street mar­kets there and learn­ing about their in­gre­di­ents which is where I gained a lot of my in­spi­ra­tion while cre­at­ing the menu.”

The Toro Toro menu is de­signed to pro­mote the shar­ing con­cept.

“With so many in­flu­ences from dif­fer­ent coun­tries, the only way to re­ally ex­pe­ri­ence Toro Toro is to or­der many dif­fer­ent small plates and share with your friends and fam­ily,” he says adding that the menu at the venue changes four times a year.

With the aim of build­ing on the strong ex­ist­ing brand recog­ni­tion in Dubai, Chef San­doval ex­plains why the Abu Dhabi venue will be the fo­cus this year.

“My plans for 2018 are to make Toro Toro Abu Dhabi an icon in the re­gion, as far as growth plans are con­cerned, we want to fo­cus on im­prov­ing our cur­rent op­er­a­tions in­stead of grow­ing our busi­ness be­cause 2018 is a year of sus­tain­abil­ity not growth,” he says.

“Dubai and Abu Dhabi are two very dif­fer­ent mar­kets, with the main dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing fac­tor be­ing the num­ber of tourists you have in Dubai, it is much larger as com­pared to the cap­i­tal there­fore Dubai has a much larger pool of peo­ple.

“How­ever the lo­cals in both cities are very sup­port­ive of their lo­cal restau­rants and have de­vel­oped a cul­ture of con­sis­tently din­ning out which is good for the restau­rant in­dus­try,” he says.

Op­er­at­ing more than 50 restau­rants

across the globe comes with its own chal­lenges, but com­pro­mis­ing on rep­re­sent­ing the cul­ture has no place in Chef San­doval’s diary.

In or­der to en­hance the South Amer­i­can cul­ture and ex­pe­ri­ence at Toro Toro, the staff is picked from that very re­gion.

“We typ­i­cally hold job fairs in South Amer­ica which is where we have em­ployed our staff from,” he says.

“It is im­por­tant for us to have staff that is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the cul­ture we are show­cas­ing in our restau­rants.

“In or­der to be con­sis­tent with your brand, you must have four key in­gre­di­ents, one is sys­tems in place, an­other is checks and bal­ances to main­tain con­sis­tency, third be­ing a great train­ing pro­gram and the fourth and most im­por­tant fac­tor is hav­ing pas­sion­ate lead­ers in great peo­ple,” he adds.

All of those guide­lines need to be fol­lowed es­pe­cially when cater­ing to a con-

sumer base who are well versed with the con­cept of South Amer­i­can cui­sine, ac­cord­ing to Chef San­doval who also adds that the rea­son Toro Toro stands out from its com­peti­tors is due to the orig­i­nal­ity and qual­ity of their food and drink paired with the spa­ces they have brought to life.

“South Amer­i­can cui­sine has be­come very pop­u­lar in the re­gion. When I first opened Maya 10 years ago in Dubai there were two or three Latin Amer­i­can restau­rants and to­day there are many more,” he says.

“I feel the com­mu­nity is very knowl­edge­able be­cause the Latin restau­rants that have been open­ing are truly au­then­tic, lead­ing me to be­lieve that the guests are well aware of the dif­fer­ent cuisines and Latin cul­tures,” he says.

How­ever, the con­stantly grow­ing din­ing scene in the UAE does not nec­es­sar­ily pave an op­ti­mistic path for the in­dus­try.

“I feel the din­ing scene in the UAE is in a great place right now and can be com- pared to some of the best cities around the world,” he ex­plains.

“My only con­cern is that there are too many restau­rants open­ing and there won’t be enough bod­ies to fill all the seats. This will cre­ate a cul­ture of dis­counts which in turn will lower the stan­dards and qual­ity of the restau­rants.”

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