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CHEF DYLAN SORO & CHEF MARIO AMARAL of Savage Chef Bar and Grill

CHEF DYLAN SORO & CHEF MARIO AMARAL of Savage Chef Bar and Grill

Artist of the Month - February 2024

Written by Tony Reverditto (Tony On the Town)

At a recent meeting, the Arts Council Menifee (ACM) voted unanimously to expand its Artist program to include Culinary Artists. There are so many great reasons why ACM chose to give the inaugural Culinary Artist of the Month Award to the team at Savage Chef Culinary. In addition to their culinary expertise, they also have a heart for our community. They have given support to the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, The City of Menifee, Menifee Chamber of Commerce, Menifee Rotary Club, Lake Menifee Women’s Club, Taste of Menifee Showcase and have agreed to partner up with Arts Council Menifee for an upcoming Chef Showdown fundraiser.

The concept behind the restaurant’s name, “Savage”, comes from Chef Dylan’s underlying determination to succeed combined with his ability to execute and reinvent recipes in a dazzling, daring non-traditional way.

The “Savage Chef’s” culinary journey started when he was 9 years old when his dad handed him a sauté pan and learned how to cook alongside him. It was there that his true passion and love for the culinary arts took flight. Dylan’s outstanding memory about his love for food in his childhood was in his first grade class. When the other students were naming their favorite foods to be pizza, Mac n’cheese, burgers, and the like. Dylan shocked everyone with his sophisticated palate, by answering “Steak Diane.”

Fast Forward, Dylan and his dad opened Soro’s Mediterranean Grill in Old Town Temecula in 2009. They transformed the space from a McDonald’s into a quick service Mediterranean restaurant. As they became more versed in the restaurant industry, they started to lean more towards a fine dining approach. This caused Dylan to seek out more!

At this juncture, Nikki his wife, urged him to pursue a culinary education at the most prestigious culinary program in the United States, the Culinary Institute of America in New York. While studying in New York, Dylan staged at Boulud Sud with Chef Daniel Boulud and managed large catering events with Lola’s Weddings and Events in Poughkeepsie. After that chapter, Dylan completed his externship in Las Vegas at Wolfgang Puck’s renowned Spago at Caesar’s Palace. Here he worked alongside his mentor, Chef Eric Klein, and participated in events with Wolfgang Puck himself. At the end of his externship, he was offered a permanent position and made the decision to leave the restaurant to pursue his dream in Las Vegas.

While living in Vegas, Dylan worked with several celebrity chefs, including being part of the launch team for Herringbone in the Aria casino in 2015 with Chef Brian Malarkey. He was also part of the 2016 opening team for Beauty and Essex in the Cosmopolitan casino with Chef Chris Santos (a judge on the Food Network). Dylan was at a crossroads, should he take his career to the next level in Las Vegas or put his family first and uproot his wife and kids to move back to Temecula to take over the family restaurant. In the end it was an easy decision and they moved back to SoCal in 2018.

Dylan became the sole owner of the restaurant and changed the name to Soro’s Grill. He made changes by updating the existing menu and adding his own unique flair by incorporating techniques and flavor combinations he had learned along the way. He wanted to change the dining scene in Temecula and that is exactly what he did.

The Savage Chef not only transformed his family’s restaurant, but has also been making a big impact within the community and in the restaurant scene. He participated in the 2021 Temecula Chef Open and swept first place in both divisions, the “People’s Choice” and the “Pinnacle Award” with his street corn raviolis.

Chef Dylan, please tell us what it has been like for you to have Savage Chef become so popular and well received by the community so quickly?

Seeing Savage Chef become popular is such a dream come true, and a blessing. Seeing all the love we get from our guests is amazing. We work very hard, and extra-long hours, and it feels like all that hard work is paying off.

Can you share with readers how it feels to be recognized by Art Council Menifee as the very first ever “Culinary Artists of the Month”?

We feel honored to be recognized as the first ever "Culinary Artist of the Month"!!

Now that Savage Chef is established, what future aspirations are on the horizon?

What's next? The Savage team is now building a spin studio called "Savage Spin''. It's an ongoing joke with some of our guests at Savage Chef; "You feed us well, and now, you're trying to keep us healthy". Savage Spin is a boutique gym specializing in stationary bikes, with music and choreography. After we get the studio up and running, we are looking to open up a new concept for Savage Chef. Not sure where yet, but be on the lookout on all of our social media accounts.

Since then, he has started Savage Chef & Co meal prep company with his wife and sister, spawned Savage Events, and in the spring of 2022, put his dream restaurant concept into fruition, Savage Chef Bar & Grill with partner and longtime friend, Chef Mario Amaral. The two originally met when they worked at Spago’s in Vegas and are truly a dream team.

Chef Mario Amaral grew up in Southern California before joining the U.S. Coast Guard in 2001. Mario was always fascinated by food and cooking. Upon departure from the military in 2005, he moved to Las Vegas to attend Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. From culinary school, Mario opened Red Rock resort and was exposed to multiple kitchens from buffets to banquets in a hotel setting. Mario then went on to work at Todd English’s Olives inside the AAA Five Diamond Bellagio hotel. While at Olives, Mario caught the attention of Chef Todd English and was asked to open Todd English P.U.B. inside the newly constructed Aria Resort. While at Todd English P.U.B. Mario was asked to assist in opening multiple restaurants in Las Vegas. This arrangement would expand across the country and world for Chef English. In addition to this, he assisted Chef English, with multiple television appearances on shows like The Talk, Access Hollywood and Home Shopping Network.

Mario then went on to open The Cake Boss star Buddy Valastro’s restaurant Buddy V’s inside The Venetian hotel and work for Wolfgang Puck at his flagship restaurant Spago inside the Caesars Palace hotel. It is here where Chef Mario would cross paths with Chef Dylan. He continued to assist and consult on multiple private restaurant openings in Las Vegas before being recruited by the Tuscan Brands group in Salem, NH. It was there where he would assist in opening a brand-new restaurant in the Seaport district of Boston, MA and oversee operations at the group’s flagship restaurant in Salem, NH.

Mario then reunited with Chef Todd English after a chance encounter on Nantucket Island. From there Mario went on to oversee operations at Todd English P.U.B in Birmingham, AL followed by assisting with operations at Chef English’s restaurants in West Palm Beach, FL, Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, and Boston, MA as well as assisting Chef English with multiple events including Super Bowl LIV and new restaurant openings in Las Vegas, NV. Chef Mario has also won many culinary competitions including round 1 of Iron Chef Bellagio, BOH Brawl and the Las Vegas DICED competition.

Mario is now showcasing his culinary expertise as Executive Chef at Savage Chef Bar & Grill. Continuing his appetite for competition, Mario recently made history as the first contender to win the Judges Pinnacle Award at the annual So-Cal Chef Open, hosted by Oak Grove Center, two years in a row. To top it off, he received the People’s Choice Award at the same event. This guy is truly a genius in the kitchen.

Chef Mario, please tell us what it has been like for you to have Savage Chef become so popular and well received by the community so quickly?

Opening a restaurant is very challenging, especially a brand new concept. I had never been to Menifee so when creating this menu I really had to draw on all of my experience as a Chef and do some homework on surrounding restaurants and the type of cuisine that would do well in this area, it was a little nerve racking lol. To see how well we have been received by the community and even people who make a trip just to come enjoy what we have to offer has been very rewarding and continues to drive my passion for cooking and creating new dishes for people to enjoy!

Can you share with readers how it feels to be recognized by Art Council Menifee as the very first ever “Culinary Artists of the Month”?

It is truly an honor to be recognized by the Art Council. It is a great feeling to see this concept being recognized by the community.

Now that Savage Chef is established, what future aspirations are on the horizon?

We hope to continue to grow and open more Savage Chef locations and new concepts in the near future, this is just the beginning for us!!!

A special shout-out to Nikki Soro, who left her career to become the General Manager and Master Mixologist at Savage Chef. She is truly the back bone of the restaurant and her husband, Chef Dylan. I know firsthand that Nikki pours a provocative cocktail.

Savage Chef Bar and Grill, 30145 Antelope Rd. #106, Menifee

Reservations: or 951.246.2433

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