||Executive Chef Michael Cordúa
Restauranteur/Founder and Chairman of the Board
Michael Cordúa, one of Texas’ most respected and celebrated restaurateurs, is owner and executive chef at seven award-winning Houston-area restaurants, including Amazon Grill, Américas River Oaks, Américas Woodlands, Artista, Churrascos River Oaks, Churrascos Westchase and Churrascos Sugar Land. With over twenty-five years of experience in the industry, Cordúa is widely credited with leading the Latin American culinary movement in American restaurants.
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 and a member of the United Congress of Chefs & Sommeliers.
Born to a large family in Managua, Nicaragua, Cordúa, a self-taught chef with a natural affinity for cooking, he quickly became the family’s chef for special occasions, learning to prepare his favorite dishes from his mother. One of seven children, Cordúa frequently entertained his large circle of friends and family.
With inspiration from his uncle’s restaurant in Managua, Cordúa conceived Churrascos, the first upscale South 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 Américas location opened in the Fall of 2010.
Cordúa has extended his culinary creativity with the opening of Amazon Grill, an upscale, stylish self-serve grill conceived as a “Churrascos for the khaki set,” and Artista, a restaurant that serves contemporary American cuisine and offers restaurant-goers a theatrical ambiance. In 2004, Artista was named “Best New Restaurant” by Texas Monthly magazine.
A devoted philanthropist, Cordúa has raised millions for charity. He currently serves on the board for the University of St. Thomas, the Houston Zoo, St. Mary’s School of Theology and Casa de Esperanza, a non-profit crisis center for HIV-positive infants and at-risk children.
Cordúa received a BS in Economics and Finance from Texas A&M University in 1980 and an Executive MBA from Rice University in 2008. Additionally, he received an Honorary Doctorate from University of the Américas and was made an Honorary Consul of Nicaragua. In 2004, Cordúa was awarded “Male Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife Lucia have four children.