5 Questions for Ricardo Zarate
Chef Ricardo Zarate's newest restaurant is Picca, which features food that blends the flavors of Peru with the elegance of the sushi bar. Zarate learned to cook by preparing meals for his 12 brothers and sisters. It's been nonstop since then, working in prominent kitchens in London and L.A. and then opening Mo-Chica in 2009. This year he was anointed a Food & Wine Best New Chef.
What’s coming up next on your menu? Definitely alpaca meat. I've been dreaming about using it for a long time. I've been trying to get it for over two years now and I finally found a great farmer. His meat is fantastic and I cannot wait to offer it to my customers. It has a very unique flavor. I've tried it many ways but I believe I'm going to make an alpaca tiradito with aji amarillo dressing and parmesan sauce. We all love it in the kitchen.
Latest ingredient obsession? Apart from alpaca meat, I'd say the 100% pure-bred fresh iberico de bellota. It's the best pork I ever had the chance to eat. It's raised 100% on a vegetarian diet, certified 100% acorn-fed. It's just a fantastic product. I already have it on my menu at Picca as a special.
What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again -- and what do you order? Sushi Gen (downtown Los Angeles). I just LOVE this place. I usually get the sashimi special because I don't have much time. The best sushi in town, hands down. I crave it all the time. If you have time, you should sit at the sushi bar and let the chef order for you. It's delectable.
What’s the last non-food-related book you read? I mostly read books about global economy. I'm totally into the subject for the past 10 years. It's very important for me to understand what is going on in the world. I care a lot about it. I also read a lot about the Peruvian economy. I hope things get better for my country.
What chef has most influenced you? Marc Gregory. I worked with him in London for almost three years at One Aldrych. He totally inspired me to become a better chef. Not only his incredible talent but his organization skills, his professionalism and his knowledge of food are spectacular. I try to be better at all the above every day. It's very important for me.
Photo credit: Picca