Sandy D’Amato grew up in Milwaukee, where his father and grandfather operated a grocery store for nearly 80 years. He attended the Culinary Institute of America where he studied under Chef Peter Von Erp. Shortly thereafter he became the first American cook at Le Veau d’Or and worked under Chef Roland Chenus through the groundbreaking opening of Le Chantilly. D’Amato returned to Milwaukee and made his mark as the chef at John Byron’s restaurant in the First Wisconsin Center.
In 1989, D’Amato and his wife, Angie, opened Sanford Restaurant in the building that formerly housed the family grocery store at 1547 N. Jackson St. The restaurant quickly became regarded as one of the best in the Midwest, earning accolades from Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Esquire, Wine Spectator, Zagat Guide, AAA and Best Chef: Midwest from the James Beard Foundation. D’Amato has cooked for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, was one of 12 chefs chosen by Julia Child herself to cook for her 80th birthday celebration and was chosen to cook for the Dalai Lama in 2007.
In December of 2012 Sandy and Angie sold Sanford to their longtime Chef De Cuisine Justin Aprahamian. He and wife Sarah, who is also a long time employee of Sanford, continue to run the restaurant with the friends they have been working side by side with for years. They embrace the traditions that have been laid before them and are excited to continue to grow and evolve in the coming years.
It is the philosophy of Sanford Restaurant to start with the finest possible ingredients, coming from as close to home as possible, supporting local farms and artisans whenever possible. We then treat those ingredients with the utmost respect, coaxing and elevating the natural flavor to the highest possible level.