Plinio Sandalio might have left Bolivia for Houston when he was just 8 years old, but even those eight years proved influential to Sandalio, who grew up on his grandmother’s native cooking. Moving to a city like Houston, with such diversity of culture, Sandalio was able to hold on to—and even build a career upon—the vibrant heritage of his youth, so many miles away.
After high school, Sandalio won a scholarship to the Rochester Institute of Technology, another journey of a thousand-plus miles from home. Only two years into his study, Sandalio knew he was on the wrong path. Sandalio returned to Houston to attend the Art Institute of Houston, studying culinary arts, no doubt with the memory of his grandmother always in his mind.
Graduating in 2005, Sandalio worked in various kitchens, jumping comfortably back and forth between savory, sweet, and mixology—a talent that would prove influential to his future. He was a sous chef at both Rickshaw and Soma and pastry chef at Noe, Gravitas, and Textile. In 2010, he worked as pastry chef at David Bull’s Congress in Austin, Texas, and last year joined Josh Watkin’s team at Carillon. Along the way, this quietly intense pastry chef earned accolades and opportunities, including an appearance on “Iron Chef America,” a 2010 “Best Pastry Chef” nomination from the James Beard Foundation, and his 2012 StarChefs.com Rising Stars Award.