Ricardo Zarate

Chef and Owner, Blue Tavern

About This Expert

Ricardo’s cooking philosophy blends his upbringing with experience from his professional résumé. As one of 13 siblings, he first found his calling at the stove in his family’s kitchen in Lima, Peru, next to his mother and grandmother, from whom he learned many of his cooking techniques. He went on to attend his hometown’s top culinary school, Instituto de las Américas, after which he headed to London to practice his craft.Ricardo worked in the city for 12 years with various positions at top restaurants and hotels, including One Aldwych, Gordon Ramsey Pengelly’s, and noted Japanese restaurant Zuma. It was at the latter that Ricardo perfected his style of integrating French and Japanese techniques and products with the flavors from his native country.

In 2009,Ricardo headed to Los Angeles where he opened Mo-Chica in Downtown at Mercado la Paloma, a cultural center designed to showcase local creativity to the broader community. A year later, he launched his pop-up restaurant, Test Kitchen, which offered guests a new dining experience weekly from a rotating roster of high-profile guest chefs.

In 2011,Ricardo introduced the Peruvian-Japanese restaurant Picca, a natural progression from his days in the West End. Critics and journalists nationwide took note of the compelling and creative cuisine at Picca, recognizing the restaurant as one of GQ’s “Best New Restaurants” and a Condé Nast Traveler“Hot Table,” all within its first year of operation.

Ricardo moved Mo-chica to its current location in the heart of downtown in summer 2012. At the new Mo-chica,Ricardo explores his roots by giving his signature, modern twists to many of the country’s traditional recipes for elevated Peruvian comfort food.

In spring 2013,Ricardo opened his third concept Paichẽ, a Peruvian izakaya located in the Marina del Rey neighborhood of Los Angeles where he explores the deft interplay between the culinary culture of his homeland and the ingredients and techniques found in the Japanese kitchens wherein he honed his craft.

In November, 2013Ricardo branched outside of Los Angeles for the first time, where he opened his fourth restaurant Blue Tavern, a Cali-Peruvian style cuisine that blends traditional Peruvian ingredients with California based dishes located right in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara.

Chef RicardoRicardo is also a Three-Time James Beard Nominee.

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