By Alison Bailin Batz
Photo by Debby Wolvos
Chef Roberto Madrid joined SumoMaya Mexican-Asian Kitchen as executive chef just a few short months ago, but he is already putting his signature spin on the restaurant’s globe-straddling, fusion-focused menu to rave reviews.
Your culinary career began right here in Scottsdale?
I got my start in 1982, studying under Tony Fogo at The White Truffle, a then-popular French fine dining restaurant. I eventually moved on to Jean Carlo to master Italian cuisine – still one of my passions – and then spent years with Michael Salvagio at Steven’s, a local haunt here co-owned by the late, great Harry Caray, where we helped build the foundation of modern Southwestern cuisine.
Your storied Scottsdale past does not end there, however, does it?
Not by a longshot. Many locals also know me as part of the team that opened the first restaurant concept, The Terrace, at The Phoenician in the late 1980s. I also had the chance to eventually head up the Golden Swan at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch in the early 1990s, where we gained national fame for our brunch. Most recently, people recognize me from The Westin Kierland’s deseo, where I spent 12 years.
What is it that brought you to SumoMaya?
Fusion is fun! I was ready for a new challenge, and the idea of experimenting with food in ways I never had before was invigorating.
What has been one of your first menu innovations?
Our new bottomless brunch – including cocktails – for just $39 per person every Saturday and Sunday, which offers three rounds of seemingly endless options including sweet Mexican pastries, sushi rolls hand-selected by me, waygu steak and eggs, kimchee and egg fried rice with Korean chili aioli, and liquid cheesecake brulee.
What else do you have up your sleeve?
My goal is to use my experience to empower our team to innovate new concepts and culinary creations. For example, we have an amazing Peruvian team member well-versed in ceviche. As a result, he and I are already looking at how to expand our ceviche program, bringing in some of his native flavors and ingredients.
SumoMaya Mexican-Asian Kitchen, 6560 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480.397.9520; www.sumomaya.com.