News & Politics

Interview With National Hispanic Foundation of the Arts’s Felix Sanchez

Man behind Noche de Gala loves Sushi-Ko, American Idol, and Triathlons.

The Noche de Gala on October 3 will be one of the fall’s star-studded social events. Last year’s ceremony for the National Hispanic Foundation of the Arts brought together celebrities from Eva Longoria of Desperate Housewives and Jimmy Smits of The West Wing to ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas and Illinois senator Barack Obama.

The Washingtonian behind the group, which works to raise the profile of Hispanics in the entertainment industry, is DC attorney Felix Sanchez, who in 1997 cofounded the group with Smits, Sonia Braga, and Esai Morales. Sanchez began his government career in Texas and later worked for Senator Lloyd Bentsen before founding TerraCom, the government-relations firm he still heads.

Where’s your favorite spot in Washington? In the fall, my daughter, Isabella, loves to get the whole family to the Bishop’s Garden on the grounds of National Cathedral for a picnic and a game of Frisbee.

Favorite pastime? My son, Philippe, and I enjoy going out to RFK and watching the Nats play. Even when they lose, we have fun.

Favorite television show?
My guilty pleasure is American Idol, and I am a diehard 24 fan.

Favorite movie? My favorite political thriller is Z by Costa-Gavras.

Favorite author? Victor Villasenor’s fictional work may not be well known, but if you read Rain of Gold, you will be hooked on his writing for life. I made my own tape of the book for my dad to listen to while he was spending long hours undergoing chemo and radiation therapy in Texas. It made us closer.

What’s on your bookshelf now? Two books: Mexico Profundo by Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, which is a psychological profile of Mexican culture, and I’ll Let You Go by Bruce Wagner, which is a kind of naughty inside-Hollywood novel.

All-time favorite restaurant? My wife, Fifi, has made me a convert to Sushi-Ko. All the restaurant staff are great, and they have the freshest uni and an amazing soft-shell crab roll (ask for extra sauce).

Favorite everyday restaurant? Cactus Cantina is nearby, and the kids still get mesmerized by the tortilla maker.

Favorite food? My wife makes an awesome osso buco and blanquette de veau.

Favorite drink? Glenlivet on the rocks at Maté in Georgetown.

Best meal ever? The chiles en nogada served at our wedding reception in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Favorite vacation spot? Last spring break some friends suggested we visit the Blancaneaux Lodge. It is a lush property set in Belize’s Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve and developed by Francis Ford Coppola. The horseback ride and hike down to a waterfall, where we had a picnic and jumped off boulders into a pristine river, left us yearning for more.

Coolest thing you’ve ever done? This summer, a good friend, Juan Gonzalez, and I completed the New York City Triathlon. Even the swim in the Hudson River was exciting!

Historical figure you’d most like to meet?
Growing up in Texas in a very Catholic family, I always looked up to John F. Kennedy. It was an honor to meet members of his family years later here in Washington.

Favorite object that you own? The night before our wedding, my soon-to-be father-in-law gave me a Venice Simplon-Orient-Express limited-edition watch as a wedding gift. I wear it on special occasions and I am saving it to give to my son when he is older.

What makes Washington special?
Living in Washington is like living on the front page of a major daily newspaper. There is always a revolving door of new faces, and it’s a place where ideas are born and realized.