Blame the Bossa Nova

Appears in the May 2022 issue.

Chef Yani Sanchez

By Peter Gianopulos

Many chefs would’ve taken one look at the sprawling new Matrix Club ( in Naperville—a 78,000-square-foot event space set to debut this summer—and sprinted straight for the exits. No way. Mission impossible. 

Drawing up an opening menu is tough enough, let alone one for an ambitious convention/wedding hall that will boast a theater, art gallery, dance floor, and yoga studio. 

But chef Yani Sanchez knows she was destined to helm its restaurant, the Matrix Room. She studied at the Culinary Institute of Mexico and trained at École de Boulangerie et de Pâtisserie de Paris. Then she proved, at multiple restaurants, that “fusion” cooking wasn’t a fad that peaked during the Clinton administration. No. No. No. Good fusion cooking, she insists, is the kitchen equivalent of her favorite musical genre: bossa nova. Different beats but indelible bass rhythms. 

For example, Sanchez is currently obsessed with blending Indian fare with Mexican and European flavors. Think Burrata cheese paired with pineapple chutney. Panipuri—India’s beloved crispy ball-shaped apps—filled with hummus and caramelized onions. And mushroom tandoori draped in a white-chocolate mole. 

“At the Matrix, people are going to be surrounded by beautiful art, but we will make sure there’s delicious art on their plates as well,” she says. 

Photo courtesy of The Matrix Club