Restaurateur/ Founder and Chairman of the Board – Cordúa Restaurants
Michael Cordúa, one of Texas’ most respected and celebrated restaurateurs, is founder and chairman of the board at seven award-winning Houston-area restaurants, including Amazón Grill, Américas Post Oak, Américas Woodlands, Américas River Oaks, Artista, Churrascos River Oaks and Churrascos Westchase. Since making his debut in 1988, Cordúa has been recognized as a pioneer of South American cuisine and has received national acclaim for his creative ideas and artful presentation. He was named one of America’s “Top Ten Chefs” by Food & Wine and is the only Texas chef to be inducted into the “Food & Wine Hall of Fame.” He is a recipient of the Robert Mondavi Award for Culinary Excellence, a member of the Continental Congress of Chefs & Sommeliers and a current semifinalist for the 2011 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurateur award.
With inspiration from his uncle’s restaurant in Managua, Cordúa conceived Churrascos, the first upscale Latin American-style restaurant in America. Critics were immediately enamored with the tantalizing dishes and unusual blending of spices and ingredients. Churrascos was featured in the New York Times and was named one of the “Best New Restaurants in America” by Esquire magazine. Following the success of Churrascos, Cordúa debuted Américas, a high-concept eatery specializing in the diverse cuisines of North America, Central America and South America. The concept provided Cordúa the opportunity to expand his prolific cooking talents to even further heights, and Américas was named “Restaurant of the Year” by Esquire magazine in November 1993. Américas added a second location in 2008 and a third that opened in September 2010.
The Cordúa Questionnaire
Q: What is your idea of culinary happiness?
A: Grilling in the back yard, music is playing, having a drink with friends or family catching some sun. Topless BBQ!
Q:Who are your favorite heroes of the kitchen?
A:My staff. They never cease to amaze me - if you only knew what most of them had to go through just be here and what they go through every night to serve out guests – I’d go to battle any day with them!
Q: Who are your favorite culinary names in history?
A: Julia for expanding the American palate
Q: What is your most marked characteristic?
A: And insatiable desired to be insatiably desired
Q: The quality you like most in your chefs?
A: Their adaptive intuition – it is a symphony to watch them cook on a busy night
Q: What are your favorite ingredients?
A: Our menus pay tribute to the ingredients that America gave to the world. Some of my personal favorites are vanilla and chocolate, tomatoes & avocados, all the peppers, corn and potato
Q: What is in your refrigerator that might surprise people?
A: Coffee mate vanilla creamer
Q: What is your late-night guilty pleasure?
A: Ice cream
Q: Your favorite time of the day?
Q: If you had a second occupation what would it be?
A: Santa Claus, the real one not the mall kind
Q: What inspires you?
A: I am a compulsive alchemist always mixing, asking “what if” and “why not”
Q: Who inspires you?
A: I see cooking as an act of affection – so it is about relationship – you got to love to cook well
Q: Your favorite movie?
Q: What do you value most in your staff?
A: Their Corduality, their insatiable desire to delight our guests
Q: In what country would you like to live in?
A: I love it here, Nicaragua would be nice too
Q: What is your motto?
A: Your delight is mine
Q: What is your most dislike about the culinary scene today?
A: Menu lies
Q: What would you like to be remembered for?
A: Introducing Latin American cuisine to the US
Q: Where do you see yourself 20 years from now?
A: Doing what I do a little better every day
Q: What animals would you include in your totem pole?
A: Lion, Dog, Pig and Rooster