Pedro Duarte – Executive Chef
“I’m always on the search for something new: a taste, a combination, a cooking style. Something totally unique is something that will be remembered.”
Born and raised in the Andes mountains of Peru, Pedro has a personal connection to SUSHISAMBA’s signature cultural coalition. Growing up he worked alongside his mother and father in their family-owned restaurant. He remembers 5am trips to the local market, selecting fresh produce and organic eggs, and learning the simple use of ingredients in their purest form. As a teenager, he moved to Lima, where he was introduced to a whole new world of ingredients, including fish and shellfish, as well as newer, more complex cooking styles, including seviche and tiradito, which he uses today at SUSHISAMBA.
After building an inspiring resume in Peru, Pedro quickly launched his culinary career in Miami. In October 2001 he began cooking at China Grill, before moving to Tuscan Steak in 2002. Less than a year later he opened Miami’s trendy Peruvian-Pacific Rim, Grass Restaurant and Lounge, where he designed the menu, implemented new dishes and managed the back of the house. Following this experience, he joined Nobu Miami’s kitchen in December 2006, where he was learned the precise technique of sushi rolling.
Shortly thereafter, Pedro moved to the culinary capital of the United States – New York City – accepting a position at SUSHISAMBA. As Executive Chef, Pedro and his team worked together to bring the flavors of Japan, Peru and Brazil to life. “My cooking is a blend of everything that’s going through my life. It’s past experiences, it’s culture, it’s emotion. Being from Peru, I understand the effectiveness of blending cuisine. Take a classic carpaccio and add a Peruvian touch – a hint of lime, some garlic. It’s about adding your own influence and being inventive.”
An opportunity to oversee the kitchen at the bustling Lincoln Center location of Rosa Mexicana marked Pedro’s tentative departure from SUSHISAMBA. While there, Pedro was engaged in a more culinary executive tasks from food and labor cost analysis to recipe standardization. It wasn’t long before he missed the creative freedom and interaction on the line. When an opening on the team at SUSHISAMBA presented itself, Pedro embraced the chance to return to the cutting-edge brand. His passion, experience and innovative spirit are illuminated in his work – the precise mix of “ingredients” SUSHISAMBA embodies. He recently debuted specials items, exclusive to SUSHISAMBA NYC West Village, that embrace the spirit of the restaurant’s cuisine and hearken to his Peruvian roots, from an innovative twist on potato ‘Causitas,’ to Anticuchos de Corazon – beef heart anticuchos with huacatay and peruvian corn. Other highlights include Pan-Seared Sweetbreads with kabocha, collard greens and creamy truffle-shoyu, and a ‘New~Classic’ Seviche made with fresh market fish and sweet potato confit.
“I’m excited to be back in the SUSHISAMBA family,” says Pedro. “And, I’m looking forward to contributing to the evolution of the brand.”
Richard Woods – Head of Spirit & Cocktail Development
The foundations of any cocktail are to make something taste delicious. Once you have established the building blocks of flavour you can flirt with boundaries. I like to showcase how diverse and unusual flavours usually found in a kitchen can equally be delivered behind the bar. It is my experiential approach that enhances a multisensory experience allowing cocktails to live outside the glass.” – Richard Woods on bridging the worlds of culinary and beverage
Under the creative leadership of award-winning Head of Spirit and Cocktail DevelopmentRichard Woods, Samba Brands Management (SBM) restaurants’ ever-changing cocktail lists feature a diverse selection of spirits and an avant-garde approach to mixology. Since joining SBM in 2012, Richard has spearheaded and overseen the direction of beverage programs at locations across the globe, including SUSHISAMBA in New York, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Las Vegas and London and Duck & Waffle in London. In 2016, Richard will also oversee the development and modernisation of beverage programs at two of SBM’s locations in Miami: SUGARCANE raw bar grill and Bocce.
Richard’s affinity for the hospitality and beverage industry emerged during his first job in a suburban gastropub, where he quickly moved up the ranks into management. It was several years later, however, upon relocating to London that he pursued his true passion, entering the cocktail scene as Bar Manager of Floridita, Soho. In this new role, he embraced the opportunity to modernise classic Cuban cocktails under the helm of renowned restaurateur Sir Terence Conran. From 2007 – 2008, Richard accepted the position of General Manager, opening and managing locations in Madrid, Dublin, and Moscow.
In 2009, Richard was ready for his next challenge, accepting the position of Executive Beverage Director of Drink Development for Stambac International, the parent company of Floridita. In this new role, he enhanced the beverage program for sites in Canada, United Arab Emirates and London. With Richard behind the bar, Time Out named Floridita “Best New Bar” in 2006, “Best Bar” in 2007, one of the “Top 10 Nights Out” in 2007 and one of the “Top 5 Best Rum Bars in the World.” He was also named “Best New Bartender to Watch” in 2007 and Courvoisier’s “Top 30 ‘Ones to Watch.’’
Seeking a position that would put his imagination and creativity to the test, Richard accepted the role of Head of Spirit & Cocktail Development in 2012 for SBM, quickly becoming a pioneer in the industry. He has raised the ‘bar’ for his contemporaries by distilling his own flavours and aromas, experimenting with intricate methodologies and incorporating diverse and unusual ingredients to transform the cocktailing experience.
Impressing critics, connoisseurs and media alike, in 2014 he earned first place in the UK and Ireland Bombay Sapphire’s “World’s Most Imaginative Bartender Competition” followed by second place in the world finals and he contributed to the Duck & Waffle’s cookbook: Duck & Waffle: Recipes and Stories, sharing a selection of his iconoclastic recipes with the world. In 2015, he received the honor of being the first bartender to participate in the prestigious “Who’s Cooking Dinner”, under his direction, Duck & Waffle was short-listed as a top 10 finalist in the “Best International Restaurant Bar” category for the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards, and he was named one of Evening Standard’s “1,000 Most Influential People.” Richard has made numerous radio and TV appearances on such esteemed shows as the UK’s Channel 4 Sunday Brunch.
At SBM, Richard has the ability to work with a myriad of spirits, satisfying his passion for inventiveness and exploration. His creativity shines in Duck & Waffle Serves such as the Roasted Cosmo 2.0 and the Chocolate & Blue Cheese Martini. In the spring of 2015, Richard introduced Culinary Cocktails to SUSHISAMBA London’s menu, collaborating with Executive Chef Claudio Cardoso to present libations that pair perfectly with the cuisine, including the Kobe Cocktail and the Coconut Seviche Cocktail.