Roberto Santibañez Unveils His New Torta Concept and His Cinco de Mayo plans: Interview Part 2

Yesterday Fonda chef Roberto Santibañez told us all about his new cookbook, Truly Mexican. Today the busy man tells us about what's next. Hint: Mexican sandwiches.

You were born in Mexico City, but went to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu, which teaches that European tradition you mentioned before. What made you shift gears to Mexican cuisine?

I think I was very young when I knew I wanted to focus on it. When I went back to Mexico, I realized how I was missing something in my food, namely those complex flavor profiles.

You used to work with the Rosa Mexicano group. What's the biggest difference between being part of a large organization and having your own small restaurant in Brooklyn?

I think it's a lot more complex. It's great when you work in a big operation because the workload is diluted into so many people. When you're on your own, you have to do everything yourself -- the analysis, the food cost, the labor. [At Rosa Mexicano] if there was a labor issue, there was always someone helping, and you didn't have to do it all yourself.

Do you live in Park Slope?

I live in Downtown Manhattan, but I wanted to go Brooklyn.

Why is that?

It was a sort of coincidence. I had a friend who was a friend of a guy who owned the restaurant before and I liked the neighborhood and said this was a neighborhood I'd want to live in. And then one day he said, "Remember that restaurant we went to? They want to get rid of it." And I said, "No way!" And then we opened.

And I hear you have a new place in the works.

Yeah, but in Seattle. We're opening a torta place in the Mariners' stadium.

And you're also a partner in the Taco Truck in Hoboken, right? What do you do there?

Yes, I'm in charge of the food program and I go once or twice a week because I have a partnership with them and need to check in on things.

Cinco de Mayo is coming up next month on May 5. Got any plans?

We will do a big party and we'll be celebrating. Generally we're so busy those days with everything happening.

Have a tip or restaurant-related news? Send it to fork@villagevoice.com.

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