ATHLEISURE MAG: Chef Ruben Rodriguez, tell us about your culinary background and the influence for your style of cooking?
CHEF RUBEN RODRIGUEZ: I spent my days growing up in my mother’s restaurant Merendero Cave in Galicia, Spain, where I learned some of my mother’s coveted secret recipes. Being from Galicia, you will find that in any of my menus I make sure to highlight my culture in some way. Nai Tapas is my first restaurant and I opened it ten years ago after working in numerous NYC kitchens around the city. My style of cooking continues to change and now I’m really focused on clean flavor profiles with strong presentations. I like the ingredients to speak for themselves on the plate.
AM: Before we talk about Amigo by Nai, you’re currently celebrating your 10-year anniversary with Nai Tapas. Tell us about your menu and the ambiance here.
CHEF RR: Nai Tapas is my ever-evolving love letter to my mother and grandmother, as I spotlight a number of their traditional recipes. However, I am constantly experimenting with flavors and different techniques to continue to grow as a Chef. My menu is divided into modern tapas and traditional tapas with an option to do a tasting menu, which I always suggest as it allows for our customers to really get the full Nai experience. I’m a serious chef, who doesn’t take himself too seriously, so at Nai it’s all about playful presentations and flavors that pop and surprise my guests.
AM: What was the moment that you realized that you wanted to create Amigo by Nai and when did it launch?
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