reach. Initially, the chef stuck primarily to the Spanish cuisine he’d mastered
during his time as a young chef at El Bulli, the Catalonian restaurant considered the pinnacle of molecular gastronomy until it closed in 2011. Jaleo,
on the Mall in D.C., is credited for popularizing Spanish tapas in the U.S. But
the critical and popular success of the place also gave Andrés the confidence
to experiment with a more diverse menu, often at considerable professional
risk. Minibar, an expensive D.C. restaurant known for cutting-edge culinary
techniques (e.g., mojitos as squares meant to be chewed, not drinks to be
sipped), could have been a costly, pretentious flop when it opened in 2003.
Instead, the establishment earned two Michelin stars. Similarly innovative
efforts, like the Asian-Peruvian fusion joint China Chilcano, which launched
in D.C. in 2015, and the seafood-centric Bazaar Mar, which opened in Miami
a year later, have helped ratchet ThinkFoodGroup’s revenue to, as of last
year, well over $150 million.
Today, Andrés is not as intimately involved with every new restaurant
opening as he once was. More and more, he serves as final arbiter—of
menu choices, of restaurant design—with CEO Kimberly Grant and others
beverage services for the Esports Arena in the Luxor hotel, in Las Vegas—a
further result of its partnership with food-service
management company the Compass Group.
Meanwhile, in Texas in February, Andrés opened
rant? Yes, but if you have a cluster of restaurants,
you’re able to share the burden of food procure-
ment, you’re able to share staff—you can have one
sommelier who moves between the locations.”
When I visit the restaurant, which is located
in the wealthy northern Dallas suburb of Frisco,
the mood on a cloudy winter day is one of upbeat
Joe Raffa, ThinkFoodGroup’s D.C.-based executive
During a 2014 visit to a culinary school in Haiti,
Andrés demonstrates techniques for cutting
vegetables. His World Central Kitchen nonprofit has
built or renovated more than 40 school kitchens in
the country, which feed 15,000 students daily.