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Citi: Culinary Beats featuring St. Lucia and Chef Ricardo Zarate

December 9, 2013

St. Lucia spends the day with the ambassador of Peruvian cuisine in America, Ricardo Zarate. They first head to the legendary venue, The Echo in Los Angeles, and then to Ricardo’s restaurant Picca.

Watch the full video here.

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Cooking Channel (Unique Eats): Mash-Ups

July 7, 2012

We’re celebrating the best of all worlds with restaurants that mix different ethnic traditions to create new and unique flavors. A chef in Houston combines Texas tradition with Italian standards. In Las Vegas, burgers are flavored with Asian ingredients. Japanese-Peruvian dishes are all the buzz at a Los Angeles hot spot. It’s a mouth-watering journey of culinary mash-ups.

Read the full article here.

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La Republica: Picca

April 17, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picca, del peruano Ricardo Zárate, está entre los 24 mejores restaurantes del mundo, según la lista publicada en la prestigiosa revista de turismo de lujo “Condé Nast”. Entre los factores que tomaron en cuenta para esta elección, destacan la atención, el ambiente y por supuesto, la comida.

Read the full article here.

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Conde Nast Traveler: The Best New Restaurants in the World

April 2012

Choi says Peruvian chef Ricardo Zarate’s ceviche has a mixture of vegetables and creaminess that balances the dish’s acidity and “makes my stomach feel like I’m wearing a goose-down parka inside.” One of Lima’s hottest exports, the young chef has opened this minimalist, sushi bar–like spot on the edge of Beverly Hills, where he pairs rectangles of sweet potato mash with sashimi-grade albacore, shrimp, and scallops. Grab a seat and a pisco sour at the marble-countered bar in front of the open kitchen and watch the chef and his garde manger staff in action.

Read the full article here.

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GQ: The Ten Best New Restaurants in America

By: Alan Richman, February 15, 2012

“I will tell you how many influences Peruvian food has,” says Ricardo Zarate, chef of the cramped, crowded, and wildly popular Picca. “When I was a boy, we always celebrated Christmas with panettone. It wasn’t until I went to Italy that I realized it wasn’t Peruvian.”

Foodies in America have for years awaited the triumphant arrival of Peruvian cuisine, long ago designated the next big dining trend. Until Picca came along, only ceviche—raw fish marinated in citrus juice—had made notable inroads. Picca offers ceviche, of course. It’s inevitable on a menu with more than fifty items. The selection of dishes, almost all small, reveals the multitude of influences in the Peruvian larder: Spanish, African, French, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese. A fantastic dish was tuna tartare with avocado and lemon-soy dressing, so fresh it practically floated off the plate. Zarate called it pure Peruvian, a play on ceviche. He modernizes such Peruvian classics as anticuchos (brochettes) and causas (potato cakes). The most perfectly executed anticucho featured small, sweet scallops, and my favorite causa was topped with spicy yellowtail.

Picca’s success can be measured by the number of items that emerge daily from its undersized kitchen. Although the dining room seats not even one hundred customers and is open only for dinner, on some nights more than a thousand plates of food are served.

Read the full article here.

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Details: More Proof That Peruvian Cuisine Will Take Over

By: Laurence Lowe, February 2012

“God has spoken,” saith the prophet Ferran Adrià. “The future of gastronomy is being cooked up in Peru.” The Catalan superchef, of el Bulli fame, was referring to Gastón Acurio, who in August opened his first restaurant in New York City (his 32nd worldwide), in the Flatiron space once occupied by Danny Meyer’s Tabla. For his part, Meyer has agreed that Peruvian cuisine “will be huge”—and with good reason. Consider that Lima-born Ricardo Zarate (Mo-Chica, Picca) is arguably Los Angeles’ hottest young chef and that Adrià himself is working on a documentary about the country’s rich culinary traditions: its world-renowned ceviche; its unparalleled variety of chilies and tomatoes; and, most important, its unique blend of immigrant influences. “Peruvian food is a big melting pot,” Zarate says. “The Incas put in the first ingredients. Then came the Spanish, the Africans, the French, the Italians. They were followed by the Chinese, the Japanese. That’s 500 years of fusion.” The best stews take time—and this one is ready to be served.

PiccaLos Angeles

Zarate’s Peruvian-style izakaya reimagines a Japanese tapas bar, with sushi-like causas (pictured below) and meatless anticuchos (grilled cherry tomatoes with burrata).

Read the full article here.

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Immaculate Infatuation: Picca

By: Chris Stang, January 11, 2012

Dining in Los Angeles is different than dining in New York. You probably don’t need us to tell you that, but every time we eat food in this town, we’re reminded of the fact that having a valet out in front of the restaurant is just about as essential as getting good press. Let’s just say that different things matter here.

Excuse us then, for being a bit skeptical when we read somewhere that Picca chef Ricardo Zarate is currently doing for Peruvian cuisine what David Chang did for Korean. That’s essentially the food industry equivalent of “insert band name here is the next Nirvana.” I think I’ve heard that about fifty times in my twelve years working in the music business, and all in fifty cases, those dudes have day jobs now. As a matter of fact, half of them probably work in restaurants.

But for once, that kind of hype isn’t an indication of assured mediocrity. Whoever wrote that David Chang thing is absolutely right. Actually, it’s not even fair to Zarate to measure his talent by using another chef as the standard. Picca is one of the most exciting new restaurants we’ve been to in a very long time, and this guy is destined to be a nationally known name in his own right. Food & Wine actually just crowned him 2011′s Best New Chef, and we’d be surprised if there weren’t at least a few cookbooks on the way. Most of the time, that stuff doesn’t make any difference to us, but this restaurant is special. We went into our meal at Picca having no idea what to expect from Peruvian food and flavors, and came away craving things we’d never tasted before. How about some mussels with pancetta and aji amarillo butter? Or a Peruvian twist on sushi? Every bite is like a grenade going off in your mouth, and it makes you mad that all meals aren’t this satisfying. Now we just need one of these in New York so Ricardo Zarate can give David Chang a real run for his money. And they won’t even need a valet.

Read the full article here.

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Eater LA: The 38 Essential LA Restaurants, January 12′

By: Kat Odell, January 4, 2012

It’s time to update the Eater 38, your answer and ours to any question that begins, “Can you recommend a restaurant…” This highly elite group covers the entire city, spans myriad cuisines, and collectively satisfies all of your restaurant needs, save for those occasions when you absolutely must spend half a paycheck. Every couple of months, we’ll be adding pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months), or have stepped up their game.

This time around, after much reflecting and poring over reader emails and comments, we’ve again made one change. New to the list is chef Ricardo Zarate’s quickly established seven-month-old Peruvian addition Picca, and to make room the time has come to retire Kogi.

Read the full article here.

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Food & Wine: Best New Chef 2011

December 2011

Ricardo Zarate

Born 1973; Lima, Peru.

Education Instituto de las Américas, Lima, Peru.

Experience Axis at One Aldwych, Mju and Zuma, London; Sai Sai, Los AngelesWabi-Sabi, Venice, CA.

How he got into the food business Cooking for his 12 brothers and sisters. “I enjoyed every part of it. I remember posting a menu on the fridge when I was about 12, so my family could see it. I was very proud of it. The menu was based on traditional Peruvian dishes, like chanfaina (an organ meat stew, often made with beef lung and potatoes) and of course lomo saltado (marinated steak and potatoes). I used to go to my friends’ houses so I could learn new recipes from their moms.”

Why he went to London “For many years, I dreamed about leaving Peru to go to Europe to learn how to cook. When I was 19, I went to study English and cooking. My first job was as a dishwasher at Benihana. After six months I became the hibachi chef. After two years, I decided to go from one restaurant to another so I could learn as much as possible.”

Ingredient Obsession Ají amarillo (a spicy yellow Peruvian chile). “Ají amarillo is for Peruvians what jalapeños are for Mexicans. We use it all the time. I just started serving uni with ají amarillo butter.”

Pet peeve “I hate a dirty, messy kitchen. Everything has to be overly clean before, during and after I cook. One time in London, a nighttime prep guy started a fire while using the fryer. Everything was black and dirty. He spent seven hours cleaning it, because he knew I would freak out when I came in. The kitchen looked new by the time he was done.”

Favorite childhood dish A dessert called chufla (a soupy rice pudding with chocolate). “I was proud of cooking it for everybody. I would feel like a chef every time I cooked it for my family.”

Favorite kitchen tool His Japanese knives. “I love sashimi hocho knives, specifically yanagi ba–style knives” (the thin, long knife used for sashimi).

Favorite cocktail Chilcano De Anís, a drink he had at Malabar in Lima. It’s a mix of pisco with anise syrup, fresh ginger and lime.

After-hours hangouts Pho 21 for pho in Koreatown. “For some reason, Koreans make really good pho.”

What he’d be if he weren’t a chef History teacher.

Chef hero Mark Gregory, chef at Axis at One Aldwych.

Favorite cookbook El Arte de La Cocina Peruana, by Tony Custer. It’s also available in English as The Art of Peruvian Cuisine.

Read the full article here.

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Thrillist: Best of 2011: Food

By: Jeff Miller, December 27, 2011

There’s so much to love about Peru, from the mountain peaks of the Andes to the astonishing beauty of Lake Titicaca, to the… hahahaha… wait, that’s seriously what it’s called? Proving their Peruvian food is nothing to laugh at, Picca.

Opening tomorrow above what used to be Test Kitchen, Picca’s a small-plates modern-Peruvian bistro from the Mo-Chica guy (who just won Food & Wine‘s Best New Chef), with a two-story interior that looks like someone broke into Pizzeria Mozza and redecorated it using stuff from a forest; i.e., there’s a totally open kitchen w/ bar seating, communal tables made from a single piece of wood, and walls with definitions of Spanish terms and squiggly drawings of mountain towns, also how the medical profession refers to areas with high plastic surgeon concentrations. Like it or not, you’re going to share your food, and the menu’s split course-wise depending on how big/heavy the dishes are, with heartier highlights including a Peruvian paella w/ sea urchin sauce and mixed seafood; crispy pork w/ toast, sweet potato puree, feta cheese sauce, and salsa; and the beef/ boiled egg/ potatoes/ rocoto aioli “Papa Rellena” that’s slow-cooked, which is the only way they prepare things at The Forrest Gump Culinary Institute. If you don’t want to immediately nap after eating, they’ve got lighter dishes too, w/ a selection of ceviches (halibut /sea bass/ mixed seafood), and plated fare like snow crab w/ cucumber & avocado, roasted tomatoes w/ confit garlic & huacatay sauce, and a beef/ chicken/ eggplant “Empanada Trio”, also the name of Val Kilmer’s Latin-focused band with Danny Baldwin and D’Angelo.

Booziness’s provided by the award-winning Rivera guy, w/ the upstairs dedicated to LA’s first lounge focused exclusively on Pisco, a pungent grape brandy that’s made even more intense when it comes out of your nostrils after someone else says Titicaca.

Read the full article here.

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Bask Magazine: Taste of Peru

By: Heidi Ristau, November 9, 2011

One of the first “fusion” cuisines, Peruvian food has blended the Old and New Worlds for over five centuries. When the Spanish conquered the Incan Empire, they brought European techniques to native ingredients. Peruvian food was not only influenced by Spain, but also by China and Japan, when hundreds of thousands immigrated to Peru in the 1800s.

Besides seafood, Peruvians use a lot of potatoes in their cooking, as exemplified in the dishes at Casa Inka in Fountain Valley. The Papas (or Yuca) a la Huancaína consists of sliced boiled potatoes (or mashed fried yuca), served on a bed of lettuce with a slightly spicy cheese sauce, hard-boiled eggs and Peruvian olives. Fried mashed potatoes are stuffed with seasoned ground beef, black olives and egg, and served with salsa criolla in the Papa Rellena. The causa is an exotic presentation of yellow seasoned mashed potato infused with Peruvian chilies and stuffed with avocado and your choice of crab, tuna or chicken.

Mo-Chica, Ricardo Zarate’s modern-Peruvian food stall, has been praised by the foodie press, so we’ve been waiting in anticipation for his newest LA venture to open. Picca is a lively cantina serving sashimi, tiraditos, ceviche, slow cooked beef-stuffed potatoes, crispy quinoa salad, blood sausage with ricoto pesto, a selection of anticucho (brochettes) like scallops with aji amarill and Santa Barbara prawns with lemon grass yuzo, and main plates like duck leg confit in black beer sauce with cilantro rice. And the best part? Nearly everything on the menu is $10 or less. Mo-Chica.com and PiccaPeru.com.

Read the full article here.

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LA Times: LA Restaurants Serve Up A Great Year

By: Irene Virbila, November 10, 2011

Each year I keep a running log to track restaurants slated to open each month. When this January rolled around and I started my new list, I fully expected the pace of openings to slow to a trickle.

That hasn’t happened. Instead, despite the curdled economy, L.A.’s restaurant scene this year has busted out with new energy and invention. And it continues to inspire the entire country. I can’t tell you how many New Yorkers and even, gasp, San Franciscans have told me that Los Angeles is now their favorite eating town. It’s about time we got some deserved attention.

Instead of treading the tried and true, L.A.’s restaurateurs and chefs are experimenting with the wild and crazy, with pop-ups, crossovers and new genres. This year’s crop of new restaurants includes sandwich shops, noodle joints, izakaya, wine bars, far-flung cuisines, wood-burning-oven specialists, plenty of communal tables and oddball bar concepts. Diverse doesn’t begin to describe what’s happening now.

Test Kitchen came and went. Ricardo Zarate, who, with that big smile, is everybody’s favorite chef, finally got Picca open, a modern Peruvian tavern, with a boisterous crowd and punchy Peruvian cooking, including some killer ceviches and anticuchos along with quirky cocktails from mixologist Julian Cox. Meanwhile, Rivera’s John Sedlar launched the more accessible Playa in the old Grace space on Beverly Boulevard with his smart take on Latin cuisine.

Read the full article here.

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Daily Dish: Five Questions for Ricardo Zarate

By: Leah Rodrigues, October 3 ,2011

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.

Read the full article here.

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Angeleno: You Say Ceviche

By: Lesley Balla, September 26, 2011

I’m not a heart person. Beef heart, that is. I’ve tasted it a few times, and it’s always something I’m happy to have tried but for which I never feel the need to go back. At Picca, Ricardo Zarate’s corazón has changed all of that.

At this stylish new Peruvian restaurant, the little morsels of meat are skewered, cooked over an open flame, and smothered in a fiery rocoto sauce—a traditional accompaniment made with South American red chiles that adds just the right amount of heat. The chunks are tender with a little chew, as full of meaty flavor as a good steak. I’m a changed woman: Now it’s a must-have on any visit.

The corazón—as well as other skewered meats, seafood and vegetables—falls under anticuchos, one of five sections (and my favorite) of a fairly expansive menu. Zarate calls it “cantina” food—ceviches and stews and sushi meant to be shared tapas-style. It fits the space, which is as textured as the Andean villages painted on the walls: high and low natural wood tables on one side of the room, communal tables on the other, and a mezzanine with a hidden lounge upstairs. The fishbowl kitchen centers it all, filled with chefs so intently focused, they barely have time to look up from their grills and plates.

Read the full article here.

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LA Confidential: 5 LA Restaurants to Love This Fall

By: Eric Rosen, September, 2011

Just upstairs from Sotto, one of Food & Wine’s 2011 Best New Chefs, Ricardo Zarate, opened his sequel to Mo-Chica, called Picca. Here, he serves novel versions of traditional Peruvian anticuchos (skewers), such as beef filet with Uni butter, scallops with aji amarillo aioli and wasabi peas, and even roast beef heart.

Read the full article here.

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LA Times: The Review- Picca

By: Irene Virbila, September 22, 2011

If you’ve ever enjoyed a baked potato or an order of French fries, you have Peru to thank. Of course, we all learned in school that the potato came from Peru and that people there enjoy a gazillion different varieties. Anything more about Peruvian cuisine, though, and most people would draw a blank.

But all that is about to change as Peru sprints onto the culinary scene. René Redzepi from Noma in Copenhagen, one of the world’s best restaurants, tweeted just last week, photo attached: “Im in Lima! This guy grows more than 1000 varieties of potatoes. The Brad Pitt of soil!”

Luckily, we’re ahead of the curve here in L.A. We’ve enjoyed some pretty good mom-and-pop Peruvian restaurants over the years. Now, though, we have a bona fide crossover star in Ricardo Zarate, a Peruvian chef who has paid his dues in high-end kitchens both here and abroad. A few months ago, he launched his second restaurant, Picca, a Peruvian cantina where he’s packing in an enthusiastic crowd for his vibrant Andes-accented cooking.

Read the full article here.

By: Jonathan Gold, September 15, 2011

We are, I think, nearing the Peruvian moment in cooking, that point where Peru‘s intricate interplay of high-mountain produce and flavors from the sea, of pre-Colombian tradition, European aesthetics and Asian technique, is moving from folk fusion to full-bore world cuisine.

L.A., where Peruvian was long synonymous with cheap chifa cooking, is experiencing its own Peruvian moment, although in a way — several of Nobu Matsuhisa‘s signature preparations are rooted in Peruvian dishes — we’ve been eating Peruvian dishes for years. Mo-Chica, Ricardo Zarate‘s stall in Mercado la Paloma, revolutionized the way L.A. looks at Peruvian cooking, with its emphasis on strong flavors and sushi-fresh ingredients, and he won a Food & Wine Best New Chef award, usually not given to chefs who run ethnic lunch counters.

Read the full article here.

NY Post: 10 Things To Eat in Los Angeles Right Now

By: Amanda Kludt, September 12, 2011

Los Angeles is hardly foreign territory to New Yorkers. We go on business, we visit our friends who defected for the better weather and backyards.But it’s rare for a New Yorker to head to LA and put some real miles on that rental car by really checking out what’s new and happening and trending in the world of West Coast food.

Ricardo Zarate, a chef who won national acclaim for his Peruvian market stall Mo-Chica, located in a South Los Angeles no man’s land, launched this big and buzzy sophomore effort at the end of June. As is a la mode these days, the menu is broken up into a series of small plates meant to be shared, some better than others. What shouldn’t be missed here, what Zarate is known for, are the ceviches.

Read more here.

Gayot.com: Interview with Ricardo Zarate

By: Sophie Gayot, August 17, 2011

The first time I discovered chef Ricardo Zarate’s Peruvian cuisine was at his original restaurant Mo-Chica which was lost somewhere in downtown Los Angeles. It looked more like a food court than an actual restaurant. But when I saw the plates of other patrons as they passed by my table, I knew it was going to be good. At the end of dinner, Zarate told me that he was going to open another style of Peruvian restaurant in West Los Angeles. After my dinner at Mo-Chica, I had high expectations for his new place. A few weeks ago I headed to Picca on Pico Blvd., and I was not disappointed at all. Watch my exclusive video interview with chef Zarate to get a first glimpse at what he has created at his new restaurant. Also, read my just published review of Picca restaurant.

Read the full article here

Food GPS: Q&A With Chef Ricardo Zarate (Picca/Mo-Chica)

By: Joshua Lurie, July 22, 2011

Lima native Ricardo Zarate spent more than a year working two full-time jobs, heading the kitchen at Venice’s Wabi-Sabi while getting Mo-Chica rolling at Mercado La Paloma. All that effort apparently paid off. Mo-Chica has become a destination, Food & Wine magazine named him one of their Best New Chefs for 2011, and on June 25, Zarate and business partners Stephane Bombet and Bill Chait opened Picca, showcasing cutting-edge Peruvian tapas in Beverlywood. He also has a second Mo-Chica in the works downtown. Leading up to Picca’s opening, Zarate better explained his goals and vision for the restaurant.

What does Food & Wine mean for your career, or is it too early to say?

It’s an award. Of course I’m very happy to get it. I’m very glad to have this award. I know I’ve been working really hard. I really appreciate that, but I need to continue and do what I like to do, which is cooking.

Read the full Q&A here.

LA Weekly: First Bite: Picca Mixes Peruvian Flavors With Sushi Aesthetic

By Jonathan Gold, July 13, 2011

If you look at restaurants as movies, and sometimes it’s hard not to, Picca is one of those places whose trailers seem to have been running forever. There’s Mo-Chica, of course, where Ricardo Zarate first came up with his concept of modern Peruvian food, and his guest-chef gigs, and his endless pop-ups at Test Kitchen — located, conveniently enough, below the space that eventually became Picca. Zarate became a Food + Winebest new chef at a point in his career when most Angelenos weren’t quite sure who he was. And then Picca opened, almost without notice, a handsome, airy room up a flight of stairs from Pico, with a glassed-in kitchen and supergraphics where you might expect the moody black-and-white photographs of dancing Quechuas to be.

Zarate’s conceit here is the opposite of Nobu Matsuhisa’s: Instead of inflecting izakaya cuisine through Andean flavors, he’s filtering Peruvian cooking through the aesthetics of the sushi bar, so that causas, the criollo dish of cold mashed potatoes layered with things like avocado, chiles and crab, becomes a blocky kind of sushi, piers of cool potatoes topped with spicy tuna tartare, eel and avocado, or albacore with toasted garlic, like a spud analog to the crunchy-rice sushi pioneered at Koi.

The category of anticuchos, traditionally skewers of grilled, marinated beef heart sold as street food in Lima, has been expanded to include skewered sweet potatoes with honey, salmon with miso, and even cherry tomatoes with burrata and the first fresh huacatay, black mint, I have ever seen outside Peru, although the original corazón is breathtakingly good. I’ve never had a better version of carapulcra, the freeze-dried potato stew, a standard of Inca cooking that may have been the first recorded instance of molecular cuisine, which tends toward a certain packing-peanut consistency but here was tender, a little chewy and full of flavor, like the potato equivalent of salt cod. And the seco de pato may have been made with duck confit, but the beery, herb-infused rice it came on tasted as if it had come from the kitchen of a Chiclayo grandmother.

Los Angeles Times: Julian Cox Shakes Up LA’s Cocktail Scene

By Jessica Gelt, July 1, 2011

It’s 5:45 p.m. on a Thursday and Julian Cox hasn’t eaten a thing, which is odd since he works in some of the best restaurants in town. He is one of Los Angeles’ top mixologists, and he runs the cocktail programs of chef John Sedlar’s Rivera and Playa as well as Sotto and chef Ricardo Zarate’s just-opened Peruvian restaurant, Picca. It’s at Picca that he finds himself both starving and unable to eat because he is zesting oranges to mix with sugar to rim the glasses for a drink he created called the Rhubarb Sidecar.

“15 minutes ’til service!” shouts Picca’s managing partner, Stephane Bombet, rushing through the chaotic dining room, past servers urgently folding napkins, prep cooks placing fish and fresh vegetables at the open ceviche bar, and Cox’s bar team, whom he has been training for weeks. Though Picca wasn’t officially open for business at the time, that night more than 200 diners were expected to pour through its wide doors for a reunion dinner for the Test Kitchen — a much-lauded pop-up restaurant that hosted a rotating cast of some of the most respected chefs and mixologists in town. Cox was Test Kitchen’s beverage director.

Tonight will be all about his drinks and Zarate’s food. If Cox, 29, has done his job right the two should go together like gin and tonic. It’s a job he takes seriously, often nabbing ingredients and tools from the kitchen to use in his drinks. And he’s not alone. Mixology fever has gripped the city in the last several years, with bartenders and bar consultants such as Eric Alperin at Varnish, Marcos Tello at 1886, Aidan Demarest at the Spare Room, Zahra Bates at Providence, Vincenzo Marianella at Copa d’Oro and Tricia Alley at Black Market Liquor Bar in Studio City, elevating the cocktail to the level of culinary art. They aretransforming the L.A. restaurant landscape, to the point that what’s in your glass is now as important as what’s on your plate.

Read the full article here.

KevinEats: Picca (Los Angeles, CA)

By KevinEats, June 25, 2011

Picca causa

There’s little doubt that Ricardo Zarate, through his efforts at the seminal Mo-Chica and later at Test Kitchen, helped open my eyes to the joys of Peruvian cookery. Apparently, I haven’t been the one only to recognize his talents, and over the past year, the Chef has gone from locally respected to achieving a taste of nation-wide stardom, being named one of Food & Wine‘s Best New Chefs for 2011 this past March. Indeed, after garnering such acclaim, it’s not surprising that Zarate would want to expand his burgeoning culinary empire. His newest creation, officially deemed a Peruvian “cantina,” goes by the name Picca, and serves up the Chef’s signature fare in a tapas-slash-izakaya-style format. Picca soft-opened on the 21st (and also hosted an abbreviated Test Kitchen tasting), but we waited until Saturday to sample the restaurant’s entire menu, all 50 dishes.

Read the full article here.

Thrillist LA: An award-winning taste of Peru

Posted: June 24, 2011

There’s so much to love about Peru, from the mountain peaks of the Andes to the astonishing beauty of Lake Titicaca, to the… hahahaha… wait, that’s seriously what it’s called? Proving their Peruvian food is nothing to laugh at, Picca.

Opening tomorrow above what used to be Test Kitchen, Picca’s a small-plates modern-Peruvian bistro from the Mo-Chica guy (who just won Food & Wine‘s Best New Chef), with a two-story interior that looks like someone broke into Pizzeria Mozza and redecorated it using stuff from a forest; i.e., there’s a totally open kitchen w/ bar seating, communal tables made from a single piece of wood, and walls with definitions of Spanish terms and squiggly drawings of mountain towns, also how the medical profession refers to areas with high plastic surgeon concentrations. Like it or not, you’re going to share your food, and the menu’s split course-wise depending on how big/heavy the dishes are, with heartier highlights including a Peruvian paella w/ sea urchin sauce and mixed seafood; crispy pork w/ toast, sweet potato puree, feta cheese sauce, and salsa; and the beef/ boiled egg/ potatoes/ rocoto aioli “Papa Rellena” that’s slow-cooked, which is the only way they prepare things at The Forrest Gump Culinary Institute. If you don’t want to immediately nap after eating, they’ve got lighter dishes too, w/ a selection of ceviches (halibut /sea bass/ mixed seafood), and plated fare like snow crab w/ cucumber & avocado, roasted tomatoes w/ confit garlic & huacatay sauce, and a beef/ chicken/ eggplant “Empanada Trio”, also the name of Val Kilmer’s Latin-focused band with Danny Baldwin and D’Angelo.

Booziness’s provided by the award-winning Rivera guy, w/ the upstairs dedicated to LA’s first lounge focused exclusively on Pisco, a pungent grape brandy that’s made even more intense when it comes out of your nostrils after someone else says Titicaca.

 

 EatDrinkTravel.com: Beautiful Chaos at Picca With Stephane Bombet and Ricardo Zarate

Posted June 24, 2011

Co-owners Stephane Bombet and Chef Ricardo Zarate are putting the final touches on their new restaurant Picca before it opens on Saturday in Los Angeles. Earlier this week, we caught up with the duo to talk about the new spot and the challenges of opening a restaurant — or what they call “beautiful chaos.”

What’s Cooking?

Picca’s concept is a Peruvian cantina with a Japanese twist. Picca (meaning “spicy” in Spanish) features full cocktail menu with over 21 different types of Pisco, a national drink of Peru. The item features numerous seafood dishes like black cod and scallops and meaty items like beef tongue, duck leg confit and even crispy pork. Stephane tells us his favorite item on the menu is the Santa Barbara Shrimp with lemon grass yuzu kosho pesto.

A Beautiful Partnership

Picca is their first restaurant together; after Ricardo opened Mo-Chica, he met Stephane through a friend of a friend and eventually became business partners. Stephane tells us, “He takes care of the kitchen, I take care of everything else. We trust each other.”

Originally from Peru, Chef Ricardo has been cooking almost his entire life. He says, “My family cooks, I have a brother that’s a chef on the East coast. My father and my mother used to cook. I get it from the family.” At the beginning of his career, he worked in London at a Japanese restaurant called Zuma. In 2009, Ricardo moved to L.A. and opened Mo-Chica with Stephane. Recently, Ricardo was named Best New Chef of 2011 by Food & Wine Magazine.

Read the full article here.

UrbanDaddy LA: Ceviche and Pisco in a Peruvian Cantina

Posted: June 15, 2011

Under blue skies, a Peruvian flag waves proudly in the breeze.

It signals a beacon of ceviche. A mecca of pisco sours. And the lush wilds of South American culture known as… Pico Boulevard.

Welcome to Picca, the long, long-awaited Peruvian cantina from one of our city’s most exalted chefs, Ricardo Zarate, accepting reservations now for its June 25 debut.

First, a word on what they don’t have: no vodka. No scotch. They’re sticking to Peruvian roots here, but with an LA twist. So you and your date will be starting off at the bar with some rhubarb-infused pisco or a Chilcano with pisco and ginger beer. In short, they’re getting their hands (and thus your hands) on every Peruvian pisco available. (In a pinch, you could always sneak in a martini at Sotto—it’s right downstairs.)

Next, you’ll find your wooden slab of a table under the Peruvian mural and pull up an alpaca-covered stool. That’s when the man behind the stoves at Mo-Chica and Test Kitchen will load up your table with empanadas, grilled scallops, a trifecta of ceviches and, if you’re up for it, beef hearts from the robata grill.

Thank you very much, Mr. Robata.

LA Weekly: Ricardo Zarate Wins Food & Wine Best New Chef

By Amy Scattergood, April 6, 2011

Last night Food & Wine announced their awards for this year’s Best New Chefs. The ten winners, picked from around the country, included one chef from Los Angeles: Ricardo Zarate of Mo-Chica, who can now add this award to his accolades, which include showing up on Coca-Cola billboards in his native Peru. Very cool. The chef, who is opening his second restaurant, Picca, in a matter of weeks, had won the People’s award in the Pacific division, the first time F&W had opened the voting up to the public. Roy Choi (Kogi, Chego) was among last year’s winners.

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Coca-Cola Catches The Zarate Wave

Posted: April 4, 2011

 

 

“There are reasons to believe in a better world”

 

Mo-Chica owner Ricardo Zarate is having a smash 2011 so far. The Peruvian chef snagged Food & Wine’s People’s Best New Pacific Chef award, he’s opening his follow-up restaurant, Picca, very soon, and after preparing food for Jonathan Gold’s bash, celebrated Mo-Chica’s enduring popularity with a big tasting dinner last night. Now this! The chef has been named the face of Coca-Cola in Peru. Partner Stephane Bombet has a proof of the Zarate billboard on his facebook, 24 of which he says are now towering above the good people of Lima. Not only does the campaign celebrate one of L.A.’s favorite toques, but the campaign is going to help fight hunger in Peru. Finally, we feel that long-promised smile arriving with our Coke.

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February 15th 2011

 

People's Best New Chef Pacific

Ricardo Zarate

  • Restaurant: Mo-Chica Restaurant
  • City, State: Los Angeles, CA
  • Why :He’s AmazingBecause he elevates his Japanese-inflected Peruvian cuisine to such heights that he’s drawing high-minded foodies to his food-court restaurant located in a market.
  • Background: Wabi-Sabi, Zu Robata (Los Angeles); Aykoku Kaku (London)
  • Culinary school: Westminster Kingsway College’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts, London.
  • Must-try Dish: Ceviche, like tuna with vinegar emulsion, red onion and corn.
  • First professional cooking experience: In Lima, Peru. “I was 16 years old, I made a banquet for a big corporation. I happened to know the guy and I said, ‘I can do it.’ I cooked in my house for 600 people. I don’t know how I did it.”
  • First experience with sashimi”I was eating at my friend’s house [in Lima], and I tried one dish, and I really loved it. I didn’t know I was eating sashimi. It was octopus with shoyu and wasabi.”

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Los Angeles Magazine, March 2010

4th Best New Restaurant in Los Angeles

A food stall, a tony Beverly Hills outpost, a high-volume hot spot downtown—these ten delicious debuts are a cheeky bunch. They’ve crossed borders and fused cultures, pushing our palates with offerings like head cheese while blowing us away with hand-torn pastas and the ultimate ceviche. Which neighborhood boasts four of the finest?

 

 

 

 

 

 

A food stand tucked in the Mercado La Paloma, Mo-Chica is Ricardo Zarate’s first restaurant, but with such talent, he’s bound to move on to bigger things. A longtime sushi chef (he also works at Wabi-Sabi in Venice), he deploys the clarity of the Japanese aesthetic to capture the simmered soulfulness of traditional Peruvian food. His quinoa preparations—a fresh salad and a risotto—are stellar, and the sautéed beef, which he stokes with a fiery sauce and tops with thinly sliced onions, is remarkable for its ability to be hearty while keeping flavors distinct. However, nothing on the short menu can match the ceviche. Blended with seaweed, chiles, and diced camote (a kind of sweet potato), then contrasted with hominy-like kernels, the fish is thickly cut and only lightly marinated. A compression of Peru’s multilayered cultures—Inca with a dash of Nisei—it is the city’s definitive ceviche.