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Aflair for Mexican cooking, a keen
business sense and a heavy social
conscience combined make Dr Sam
Prince an agent for good.
He is best known today for his chain of
wildly successful restaurants Zambrero and
philanthropic work around the country, but
his story, like his restaurant, began back in
the nation's capital.
Dr Sam was born in Scotland, but grew up
in Canberra attending St Edmund's College,
Lake Ginninderra College and the ANU. He
moved on to Monash University in Melbourne
to study his undergraduate in medicine.
While working his way through his
university degree, he cooked his way up the
chain of command at Mexican restaurants.
A confirmation of his dedication, he worked
his way up from a kitchen hand to a chef, all
It was in the kitchens of Melbourne where
he had the idea that would bring him, once
again, back to Canberra.
"There was a huge gap in the Mexican
food market in Australia, as well as a huge
movement in healthy, fresh Mexican food in
America," he said.
"I just kind of backed myself in being the
first in Australia."
Knowing that the market gap would not
be around forever, he took the plunge and
opened the first Zambrero restaurant in
Braddon in 2005.
"The location choice was simple.
If you open a restaurant in a busy location,
say in Swanson Street in Melbourne, you're
restaurant may be busy but you may not be
able to replicate it elsewhere. If you can make
a business model work in the suburbs of
Canberra, you know it's a good one," he said.
A testament not only to the business model,
but the population's desire for healthy,
delicious Mexican food, the Zambrero brand
took off like wildfire. The brand is the fastest
growing franchise in the country, with several
new stores opening across Australia in the
Dr Sam describes the experience as simply
"I haven't actually had the time to sit down
and kind of go 'wow'," he said.
"There are [Zambrero] restaurants in
Australia that are running and trading in
places I have never been to."
The philosophy of the restaurant fits well
with Dr Sam's mantra of being "healthy,
happy and humanitarian".
The first two are accomplished simply
by the food on sale, the third is achieved
through charity spin offs from the business,
including the Plate 4 Plate program. Every
time a customer buys a plate of food from a
Zambrero restaurant, one is put in front of
someone in the developing world.
This offers what Dr Sam describes as "front-
line aid" to developing countries.
While this program addresses starvation in
a country far away, another initiative called
One Disease at a Time is working much closer
The first goal of the organisation is to
eliminate the treatable disease scabies as a
health problem, right across Australia. This
means reducing the prevalence of scabies
in remote Indigenous Australia to a level
equivalent to what you might find in a city
like Canberra or Sydney. Here, virtually no
one has suffered from scabies, or even knows
someone who has. That's how it should be for
all Australian communities.
"This is not something we are doing to
the community, it is led by community health
workers," Dr Sam said.
"We are just giving them a hand to rid this
awful, awful disease."
'Giving a hand' is a simplistic phrase for
coordinating world leaders in the fields
of business, medicine and logistics, but is
characteristic of how the doctor downplays
his massive achievements.
When asked how he felt about his success
and multiple awards, he just replies "I did
really well in the swim suit section." Though
nonchalant about his achievements this far, he
is showing no signs of resting on his laurels.
"The press or the public can have an
opinion of you when you are a doctor doing
aid work," he said.
"That can be rosy, but I have always
thought that the lion's share of the work is
ahead of me.
"I just need to get to work."
This local business legend is saving the world one disease and one
burrito at a time. BY LAURA METHORST
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