Sam Hellman-Mass Talks About Extreme Opening Stress, Graceful Leadership, and His Masa Obsession


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Restaurateurs talk about having skin in the game, but for Sam Hellman-Mass, the situation was more literal. In the buildup to opening Suerte—one of Food & Wine's 2019 Best New Restaurants—he had a stress-exacerbated allergic reaction to a medication that caused his whole body to turn red and his vision to be impaired for months. Still, he persevered, and from its inception, Hellman-Mass and executive chef Fermín Nuñez have set a culture at Suerte that puts the mental and physical wellbeing of their team and community first—all while making some simply masterful masa. During the recent SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, Hellman-Mass sat down for an early morning chat about the sometimes scary shift from chef to owner, and how Suerte takes care of their own and the community around them. Ig @suerteatx F&W Best New Restaurants:

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