Chef Mario Sandoval of Coque - Biography

Madrid, Spain

September 2015

Sense, memory, landscape, and reinvention define Spanish Chef Mario Sandoval’s cuisine. Sandoval was born in 1977, but the restaurant that he would eventually helm and usher into prominence, Coque, was birthed by his grandparents more than 20 years before.

Sandoval grew up steeped in food tradition. He studied cooking at the Superior School of Restaurant and Kitchen Management of Madrid, and staged around Spain and France. He took over the reins of Coque from his father in 1999, and began taking the establishment in a more avant-garde direction through intense research, experimentation, and the mining of local foodways. Coque’s wood-fire oven, gardens, farmland, and Sandoval’s progressive tasting menus are all contributing factors to the restaurant’s rapidly rising profile. Today, meals at Coque—guided by Sandoval brothers Diego (manager) and Rafael (head sommelier)—begin in the wine cellar with cocktails and snacks, then move through the kitchen for aperitifs, progressing to the dining room, and come to a finale in the dessert lounge.

In 2004, the restaurant received its first Michelin star, and the Sandovals opened event space, La Romaneé, and bakery, Dulcemanía. Since then, Dream Food and Food Concept catering companies have been added to the family business, as well as El Bistró de Sandoval.

Sandoval has written five cookbooks, and is the originator of the field of study “Gastrogenómica,” which aims to recover nearly lost species of fruits and vegetables native to Madrid by studying their DNA. He also is the founder of Dream Food Innovación y Gastronomía, focused on food research and the development of restaurant infrastructures. In 2013, Sandoval was elected president of the Spanish Chefs and Pastry Chefs Federation, and was nominated for “Best Chef” by the Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy.