Chef Oscar Padilla Brings Latin Flair and Edible Dessert Art to Denver’s Toro

Toro’s executive chef, Oscar Padilla, is known by Denver’s foodie community as someone who radiates brightly. The beloved chef says nothing makes him happier than bringing people together with an excellent meal. Well, maybe except Christmas.

“171 days until Christmas,” Padilla grinned when he sat down for an interview with 303 Magazine to talk about his viral chocolatey dessert, La Bomba.

Unique desserts that function like edible art are taking the Mile High City by storm, and Padilla is putting Toro on the map as a key player.

Toro’s Executive Chef Oscar Padilla. Photo courtesy of Toro Latin Kitchen & Lounge on Facebook.

From an early age, Padilla’s big family in Mexico played a major role in catapulting his love for the culinary arts.

“My grandma made all the amazing foods,” he said. “But the traditions come from my grandfather. He loved to make banquets at home every weekend, and we’d have food for between 50 to 100 people and we are only 12.”

As a young chef, Padilla worked at the Bankers Club in Mexico. His experience at the Bankers Club was a pivotal starting point in Padilla’s career for many reasons, but perhaps most monumentally because it was where he was discovered by renowned chef Richard Sandoval. Sandoval, who gave Padilla the nickname “Culinary Beast,” quickly took him under his wing and changed his life forever.

World-renowned chef Richard Sandoval. Photo courtesy of the Richard Sandoval Hospitality website.

Today, Padilla and Sandoval are recognized globally for their contemporary Latin cuisine. Together they have opened 17 restaurants — sharing their Latin flair with tables all around the world.

READ: Toro Latin Kitchen Revamps a Richard Sandoval Classic in Cherry Creek

“Sharing food around the table at dinner is one of the most amazing traditions we have,” Padilla said. “When you’re sharing something with someone else, you’re sharing love, you’re sharing smiles, you’re sharing experiences. THAT is something.”

From the main appetizers to the main course and everything in between, Padilla brings excellence and aptitude to every plate he puts on the table — and dessert is no exception.

“You have an amazing appetizer, amazing entree, amazing drinks — you need something that surprises you after all of those amazing things,” he said.

Currently, that “thing” is La Bomba ($22), a delightfully fun and interactive dessert collaboratively conceptualized by Sandoval and jazzed up by Padilla’s experimental approach.

A beautiful Valentine’s Day version of La Bomba. Photo courtesy of Toro Latin Kitchen & Lounge on Facebook.

La Bomba is eye-catching from the moment it’s brought to the table. It’s so beautifully crafted, artistic and delicate that you feel like you shouldn’t get too close or the chocolate sphere might brea…BOOM!

When La Bomba falls to the table, it shatters into pieces, exposing one delightful bite after another. An assortment of berries and fruit pop with vivid colors and the creaminess of flavorful ice creams and fluffiness of meringues brings textures to excite the palate.

If you want a bigger taste of what Padilla has to offer, try one of his favorites — Ceviche ($19 – $23). Kick back with a Spicy Mercado Margarita ($14) and enjoy as the light refreshing Ceviche flavors dance around your mouth.

Amarillo Ceviche. Photo by Alden Bonecutter.

Padilla’s fun, experimental speaks to the Denver food scene and how it is evolving.

“Right now Denver is growing, we are discovering a lot of new things,” Padilla said. “Denver is ready for this change. Denver is ready for this avalanche of new concepts and artists coming to this place. I am so excited to see what’s going to happen in the next five years in Denver because it’s just starting.”

Outside of Toro, other restaurants in Denver are also offering exciting new ways to satisfy one’s sweet tooth. Hacienda Colorado now serves a super entertaining Chocolate Piñata ($25). You don’t have to hold back with this dessert — simply smash the chocolate piñata and watch as fresh fruits, mini churros and bits of chocolate fall onto the table.

“Something we have all learned is to never take for granted an opportunity to celebrate,” said Dan Wheeler, chief marketing officer of Hacienda Colorado. “Our signature dessert offers a great way for friends and family to gather and enjoy a fun experience alongside one another.”

Toro Latin Kitchen is located in Hotel Clio at 150 Clayton Ln., Denver. It is open for lunch every day from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., and dinner from Sunday – Thursday 5 p.m. – 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. – 12 a.m.

Hacienda Colorado has locations in Denver, Colorado Springs, Lakewood, Lone Tree, Westminster and Wheat Ridge. It is open Sunday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.