In the late 1990s, Richard Sandoval set out to change diners’ perception of Mexican food as a heavy indulgence. He hearkened back to the days he assisted his grandmother in their Mexico City kitchen, chopping fresh ingredients from neighborhood gardens. In 1997, when Sandoval opened his first Latin concept—Maya in New York—he made a conscious decision to use fewer processed foods, leaner meats and lighter ingredients, such as vinaigrettes, to cut the fat but boost the ...

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