Every Latin food fan worth his chile-infused salt knows the name Richard Sandoval. A name perhaps less familiar, but whose talents are no less impressive, is Jose Luis Flores.
Recently named corporate pastry chef of Richard Sandoval Restaurants, Flores oversees the desert menus for all of Richard Sandoval’s Washington restaurants, including Zengo and Masa 14 and both El Centro D.F. locations, and the Miami and Dubai outposts of pan-Latin steakhouse Toro Toro.
Among the desserts on Flores’ well-crafted menus are coconut profiteroles with toasted coconut ice cream, Manjar Blanco and chocolate sauce (at Zengo); a triple-layered deep chocolate brownie cake made with dark, milk, and white chocolate and topped with black plum sauce (at Masa 14), and Mexican style donuts dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with chipotle caramel and canela spiced chocolate (at Maya in New York).
Flores’ love of cooking, and pastry in particular, dates back to his childhood, when he watched his grandmother whip egg whites by hand to make génoise cake. She was a cook for some of Mexico’s wealthiest families and often brought home ingredients that were exotic to the Mexican pantry. Flores’ father died when the chef was just eight, after which he took over the cooking for his family. At 16, he landed a job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. It was the first step in what would become a long and noteworthy career.
In his early twenties, Flores relocated to New York City and began working at the famed China Grill. Following that, he spent twelve years working for chef Douglas Rodriguez, the man behind the Nuevo Latino movement, and helped Emilio and Gloria Estefan open Bongos Cuban Café at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood.
We sat down with Flores’ at Richard Sandoval’s Maya in New York City to taste some of his latest culinary confections – we tried 14 in all! – and to ask him a few questions about his past, his passion, and his pastries. Here’s what he had to say.
Next up, Flores shares his sweet secrets...