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Darwin's on 4th

Chef Darwin Santa Maria has opened Darwin’s on 4th, a restaurant where diners can explore authentic urban street foods from the cuisine capitals of the world as well as Latin favorites that have made this young Peruvian chef famous. The restaurant, which seats 168 on two levels, has ample parking at the back of the building and does dinner only. Live entertainment on weekends in the upstairs lounge. Late night bar menu. An additional component to Darwin’s on 4th is an artisan brewery on the premises with brewmaster Jared Barnes in charge of the signature beer menu.

Darwin Santa Maria is the founder of Selva Grill, a Sarasota restaurant that gave him a stage to present to the public authentic Peruvian specialties such as Darwin’s ceviche menu and his special techniques with seafood and beef. Many of those recipes have made the transition to Darwin’s on 4th along with a new concept he’s excited about.

“People today are well traveled and they have a taste for global cuisine that they expect to be exciting, new and delicious,” said Santa Maria. “Many travelers have discovered urban street foods in major cities around the world and have found these small plates to be a wonderful way to experience different cultures and cuisine styles. In my travels around the world, I always felt that street foods express the essence of a place. In my new restaurant I’m bringing those varied and original flavors and presentations back from the four corners of the earth for all of us to enjoy.”

But the young chef is not Abandoning his personal culinary history, which evolved in his mother’s restaurant in Peru. “The specialty dishes that made my repertory unique at Selva Grill are still with me and many will appear on the Darwin’s on 4th menu,” he continued. “The foods of my childhood will always be important to me and to my children as they grow.”

The 36-year-old chef was born in the jungles of Peru. He came to America at the age of 13, first to Miami, then to Sarasota for his last years of high school. He returned to Miami to attend Johnson & Wales culinary college. At age 19 he was recruited by Michael’s on East where he quickly rose to the position of sous chef. Later he was the opening chef at Fred’s and in 2001 Darwin Santa Maria was named by Food & Wine Magazine one of the top 10 chefs in the nation. The award encouraged his to strike out on his own and to open Selva Grill in a small storefront at Merchant’s Point near Gulf Gate. Later he moved the restaurant downtown and after several years of incredible success, he and Lellys decided it was time to start a family and to travel a bit. Their oldest son Joaquin is now four.

“I thought about opening a restaurant in Peru,” said Santa Maria. “But, most of my family is here and frankly, my heart is in Sarasota. This town is where I want to cook and to gather friends new and old to my table. I know I’ve found the right place at Darwin’s on 4th. We have room to grown and flexible spaces to have private parties, wine dinners, all sorts of exciting events built  around delicious foods from all over the world.”

Read more about Darwin's on 4th:

Sarasota Herald-Tribune ( Thursday, September 6, 2012): Darwin’s on 4th to make beer with fresh hops shipped from Washington

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