With equal amounts of passion and creativity, Chef/owner Ricardo Zarate crafts his inspired cuisine using market-fresh ingredients and a vast knowledge of food gained while working in some of London’s top restaurants. From the defining kitchen of Zarate’s childhood home in Lima, Peru, this chef has been creating sublime, memorable meals for serious food lovers for over 15 years.
Zarate success can be traced to his modest roots. One of 13 siblings, all the children were expected to help in preparing the family meals. Lima, having been a center for trade for centuries, was a melting pot for all types of cuisines and food products and young Zarate began experimenting much to the delight of his family. At the age of 17, he realized his love of history could be combined with his passion for cooking. Zarate applied and was accepted to the city’s top private culinary school, the Institute of the Americas where he received his three-year certificate. Soon after he graduated, he headed to London.
Zarate worked in London for 12 years where he held various positions with top restaurants and hotels including One Aldwych where he was Chef de Partie and the top Japanese restaurant in London, Zuma.
The Millennium Hotel Group then offered him the top job at Sai Sai at the Biltmore in Los Angeles in 2003. Wanting to see more of the world, Zarate jumped at the chance to come to LA and to have his own kitchen.
During his 18 months at the hotel, Zarate redesigned the restaurant, renovated the menu and increased sales by 300%.
In 2005, Zarate moved back to London to consult for six-months with Gordon Ramsay Holdings on a new venture, Pengelly’s, a Pan-Asian concept. From there, he rejoined the Zuma Group as the Executive Chef for Zuma Events in London. It was here that Zarate took part in a dining revolution, perfecting his unique style of integrating French and Japanese techniques and product with methods and flavors from his native country, Peru.
It was then time for him to go to Los Angeles. With a very creative vision and a modest budget, Zarate opened Mo-Chica in summer of 2009 in Downtown Los Angeles. A little ole in the wall, a gem, as many have said. Named for the language of a pre-Incan civilization, the restaurant, located in a small food court near USC, has been hit since the day it opened. Mo-Chica was voted 4thBest Restaurant in Los Angeles in 2010 by Los Angeles Magazine. As a chef, Zagat gave him in 2011 a 27 rating to make him one of the top chefs and restaurants in the city.
in August 2010, he opened what he called his pop up on steroides: Test Kitchen. It became one of the biggest overnight success of the past 10 years in Los Angeles. After 3 1/2 months, the pop up closed his door in order for Zarate to open his new restaurant at that same location.
Confident with his food and his concept, Chef Ricardo Zarate is now ready to challenge himself again and to open his first restaurant on the west side: Picca (opening May 2011)
In March 2011, Chez Zarate became Food and Wine Best New Chef, The People’s Edition and more to come…