Jill Beathard

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July 17, 2012
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Venga Venga owner back for more

SNOWMASS VILLAGE -For Chef Richard Sandoval, it's "here on up" for his restaurant in Snowmass Village, which he says is here to stay. "The first year we did well; the second year we did much better," said Sandoval, who opened Venga Venga in 2010. "We were in a recession. It's just going to get better."The Mexico City native chose a cantina and tequila bar for the Snowmass Mall restaurant located right off Fanny Hill. He says warm, hearty Mexican food goes over well in a slopeside restaurant. "I've always felt Mexican food was a natural fit up in the mountains," said Sandoval, citing his experience with his restaurants in Denver. Sandoval opened his first Mexican restaurant in 1997 and now has restaurants throughout the country, including several in Colorado. The dishes are similar to those of his other Latin restaurants, but he expanded the taco menu because of the slopeside location. "People are skiing in and skiing out, so you gotta be able to get food out really quickly," he said. He said a ski area restaurant also has to be run differently because it makes money only a few months out of the year, so the pricing, drink specials and other aspects are unique. Since opening the cantina on the mall, Sandoval has been getting increasingly involved in Snowmass Village. He says anything that helps Snowmass helps his business, and so he began participating in the Culinary & Arts Festival, taking place for the third time July 19-21. Sandoval will lead two cooking demonstrations in this year's festival. In the first he will prepare mole verde, or pork in a green mole sauce, and a ceviche. For the pairing event, he will cook carnitas."Most of the demonstrations, you gotta make them approachable to the home cook," he said. He said the mole verde dish, for example, requires a lot of ingredients but is easy to prepare. On July 20, Sandoval will also host a ticketed event at Venga Venga, offering tacos and tequila. The Snowmass Culinary & Arts Festival includes art vendors and food demonstrations and tastings with chefs, both local and visiting. Artists will exhibit their work in a variety of media on the Snowmass Mall throughout the weekend. A free cooking demonstration by Diane Hendericks on the mall will start the weekend at 5 p.m. July 19 before the free weekly concert on Fanny Hill. Free demonstrations will be in the Viking Culinary Demo Tent throughout the day July 20. Ticketed events, including demonstrations, meet-and-greets with chefs, and the Palette of Pairings, featuring foods paired with wine and spirits, are on July 21. For the full schedule and to purchase tickets for the July 21 events, visit snowmassculinaryandarts.com. jbeathard@snowmasssun

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The Aspen Times Updated Jul 17, 2012 06:17PM Published Jul 17, 2012 06:10PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.