Mark Sandoval was drawn to cooking at an early age-an interest he credits to his father. He and his father, a restaurant cook, would prepare dinners for his family three to four times a week. Mark loved the reactions his culinary creations received and he spent his adolescent years cooking for friends and family as often as he could.
A native of Colorado Springs, Sandoval attended the University of Colorado and graduated with a degree in Studio Fine Art with an emphasis on photography and sculpture, a focus Sandoval says is important in cooking.
“Food is visually appealing” said Chef Sandoval. “It involves all of your senses. The ingredients are your canvas and the varying colors and flavors allow to paint your picture.”
Upon graduating in 1995, he moved to San Fransisco to pursue his love for all things culinary, where he enrolled in the California Culinary Academy. His first restaurant position came at Moose’s, a North Beach favorite where Sandoval learned to prepare small American Cuisine, with local, small farm ingredients, a passion that would develop Sandoval’s cooking style. It was here Sandoval would meet one of his influential mentors, Brian Whitmere, who was executive Chef at the time. After two and a half years at Mooses’s Sandoval left to help open Jianna restaurant.
Sandoval’s next step reunited him with his mentor, Chef Whitmere. He moved up north to work under Chef Whitmere as sous chef and the banquet chef at the award winning restaurant, Carneros, located at the Lodge at Sonoma. Here, Sandoval raised his own herbs and vegetables for the deaily changing menu and eventually became the executive sous chef.
After three years, one of Carneros’ frequent guests, Steve Ledson, owner of Ledson Wines, approached Sandoval with an opportunity to open a restaurant on the plaza in Sonoma. Called the Harmony Club, the restaurant provided Sandoval with his first executive chef position and the chance to continue cooking with farm fresh cooking ingredients. He would weekly go to the Farmer’s Market where he would find his inspirations for his food and wine paired menus.
In 2005 Sandoval received exciting news-his biggest inspiration, master chef Joel Robuchon, would be opening his first restaurant in the united States, in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Wanting to be a part of history, and a chance to join the master chef’s team, Sandoval applied to work in Robuchon’s kitchen. He was flown to Las Vegas and given two hours to prepare five dishes in a kitchen he had never seen or cooked in previously. His practice run was successful and he was hired as sous chef and saucier at the Joel Bobuchon at the mansion.
After one year, he transferred into the MGM Gran Culinary department where he worked with the Resort’s high profile clientele as he cooked for private parties and VIP guests.
In June of 2007, he was approached by a former colleague at the Joel Robuchon at the Mansion who was working for the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group. Sandoval has always appreciated and followed Chef Puck’ culinary philosophy and freshness and knew it would be a great fit for him.
“Using only the freshest ingredients is my inspiration for creating delectable dishes” said Chef Sandoval. “When you embrace that philosophy you cant go wrong.”
Sandoval joined the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group in June 2007 as sous chef. After just few short months, Sandoval was promoted to Executive Chef. He is currently continuing to seek out fresh, new and unique ingredients to update his ever changing menu both at his restaurant at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian Resort Casino and for his website Cooking Video Recipes.