Lima-born Chef Ricardo Zarate, owner of LA hotspots Mo Chica, Picca and Paiche, will be on stage at this year’s Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival from April 8 – 10. One of many decorated chefs putting on cooking demonstrations during grand tasting, Zarate will be showcasing the exotic tastes of Peru.
Ricardo shares his insight toward the festival for the first time, as well the growth of Peruvian flavor in Southern California.
What inspired you to get involved with the Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival?
“I like to explore different parts of California. I can get a lot of inspiration from the different regions and Palm Desert is great because it is like a weekend retreat from Los Angeles, a great distance and location if I’m just looking to get away for a little bit. I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet the chefs from Palm Desert and try their food.”
What wineries and restaurants are you most excited to see at the festival?
Hey, I love wine, but don’t forget about the breweries. I’m really excited to see some of the local breweries in action. And this will be my first time at the Palm Desert Food & Wine festival so I’m excited about it all.
What are you most looking forward to about the festival?
“The festival circuit is such a great way to meet new people—different chefs, people in the industry, or those who simply appreciate a good bite to eat or a nice wine or beer to drink. I’m really looking forward to talking with the other chefs at the Palm Desert Food & Wine festival. Meeting new people means I get to exchange new ideas and talk about new food trends, and that is always exciting.”
What do you plan to prepare during your grand tasting cooking demo?
“Ceviche with crispy fried calamari, leche de tigre with aji amarillo sauce and papa rellana with botilja Sauce. These are both dishes that are featured in my new cookbook, Fire of Peru.”
How do you see Peruvian cuisine growing in Southern California, and what role do you hope to play in that growth?
“There are a lot of similarities between Peruvian and Californian cuisine because of the mix of different cultures. In Peru it happened 100 years ago and in California it is happening now. Peruvian cuisine is very adaptable and I see it adapting over time, using biodiversity of produce available in California. I think I have already played a role by introducing Peruvian cuisine at a competitive level in Los Angeles.”
How does an event like the Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival help people discover and adapt new tastes, such as Peruvian cuisine?
“Events like this, where many chefs from different backgrounds are brought together, give people an opportunity to try and taste lots of flavors and cuisine. They can experience the food at the event, learn from the chefs and even bring home cookbooks, like Fire of Peru [laughs]”