ROBERTO SANTIBAÑEZ is the chef/owner of Fonda restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Born in Mexico City, Chef Santibañez graduated with honors from Paris’s prestigious Le Cordon Bleu. His award-winning international career includes culinary consultant, author, and teacher.
He founded three highly acclaimed restaurants in Mexico City before serving four years as executive chef at Fonda San Miguel in Austin, Texas and five years as culinary director for Rosa Mexicano restaurants based in Manhattan. His New York City Fonda restaurants showcase Santibañez’s lifelong devotion to his native cuisine.
Chef Santibañez has authored Rosa’s New Mexican Table, nominated for an IACP and a James Beard Award. His second book Truly Mexican was named by The New York Times as one of the Notable Cookbooks of 2011. Food & Wine magazine honored his Tacos, Tortas and Tamales as one of the best cookbooks of 2012. He serves on The Culinary Institute of America’s Latin Cuisines Advisory Council.
In a fortuitous twist, Chef Raúl Leyva was born in Brooklyn, but was raised in Puebla, Mexico. Like so many fine Mexican chefs, he learned traditional Mexican cooking in his grandmother’s kitchen. Inspired to pursue a culinary career, he returned to the United States to attend the Art Institute of New York City, where he graduated from the Culinary Arts program.
As a student, he began working at the venerable NYC Rosa Mexicano Restaurants. Starting as a line cook, he worked his way up to sous chef where Rosa Mexicano’s (then) culinary director Chef Roberto Santibañez discovered his talent.
In 2010, after four years at Rosa Mexicano, Leyva was invited to be executive chef of Fonda, Brooklyn by chef/owner Santibañez. When Fonda opened its second location in the East Village, he collaborated with Santibañez to develop the menu and launch the restaurant. After three years, he left Fonda to expand his culinary experience, working two years at Dos Caminos Restaurants. In 2016 he returned to the Fonda family as corporate chef of their three locations where he infuses the food with his passion and experience.