Milwaukee, Wisconsin – December 3, 2012 – After almost 23 years of business, Sanford (Sandy) and Angie D’Amato have sold their award-winning restaurant, Sanford, plus the family building in which it resides, to their Chef de Cuisine, Justin Aprahamian. Chef Aprahamian is a 2-time James Beard Foundation-Best Chef Midwest nominee and a semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year. He has worked for the D’Amato’s for over 10 years, the last four of which were at the helm of the Sanford kitchen while Chef Sanford D’Amato assumed a more consulting role in preparation for the eventual restaurant sale.
Sanford Restaurant was once the site of the D’Amato family grocery store that was originally opened by Sandy’s grandparent’s in the 1920′s. Sandy and Angie bought the building from Sandy’s parents and opened the restaurant on December 7, 1989. Sanford Restaurant went on to receive numerous awards and accolades including a perennial top Zagat rating of 29 for Food, the AAA-Four Diamond Award, and was named one of the best 50 restaurants in America by Gourmet Magazine. “This couldn’t be more ideal,” says Chef D’Amato. “We are extremely fortunate to have such a talented and progressive chef in our Sanford “family.” While embracing the classic integrity and philosophies we’ve built up over the years, Justin has skillfully and professionally carved out a personal direction that has been exciting to witness, and more importantly, to devour. I can’t wait to see his thoughtful creativity amplify as the years go on.”
Chef Aprahamian and his fiancé, Sarah Mudrock (who has worked for the D’Amato’s for 9 years in management, administrative and serving roles) will retain the long-standing kitchen and service team who have been the cornerstone of Sanford’s success. The “Modern Ethnic” menu will continue to explore and put a contemporary twist on the traditional cuisines of the globe, including Justin’s own Armenian heritage. The wine list will retain the same spirit of offering diverse varietals in many price ranges and since Justin is an avid beer fan, “aged beer” will find its way onto the Sanford beverage list; he has hand-selected local and national craft beers, then aged them until they have reached their ultimate potential for the list. In addition to Justin’s continued support of farming communities and artisan producers, he has planted a restaurant garden from which he will supplement the Sanford menu, tapping into it in the winter months after pickling and preserving the peak summer and autumn produce. “We are excited and humbled to be given the opportunity to continue the traditions of Sanford Restaurant,” says Chef Aprahamian. “We want to thank Sandy and Angie for their years of dedication to us, to the staff, to the guests of Sanford, and to Milwaukee.”
Justin will continue donating his time locally and nationally to include cooking for the annual Ronald McDonald House of Milwaukee fund raiser (helping families whose children are receiving medical treatment), guest speaking to aspiring students at local colleges, and in February 2013, joining Chef D’Amato to help kick hunger in New Orleans at The Taste of the NFL “Party with a Purpose,” in which Sanford Restaurant has been involved for the last 11 years to help raise over $14 million dollars for Feeding America.
Although handing the keys over to Justin, the D’Amato’s are not retiring. They will continue to consult for the restaurant and look forward to much collaboration in the future. Sandy D’Amato is in the midst of writing his first book, GOOD STOCK, a memoir/cookbook, due for release in autumn of 2013 by Agate Publishing. He will continue writing his Sunday column, Kitchen Technician (which debuted in June of 2000), for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Entrée section, and future plans include conducting private cooking classes from their farm in rural Massachusetts, where they own a second home.
Sandy and Angie have been privileged to cook for and serve the loyal and dear patrons of Sanford Restaurant, who have always supported them through thick and thin. Especially hard will be missing the day-to-day contact with their dedicated and hilarious staff, who care so deeply and run the restaurant as if it were their own.
Sanford gift certificates will continue to be honored under the new ownership.
Wisconsin has been honored in Wine Spectator’s newly released 2014 Restaurant Awards
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