Best Peruvian Chef: Ricardo Zarate
He’s the king of ceviche and the best Peruvian chef in Los Angeles. Chef Ricardo Zarate has infused the entire L.A. community from the foothills to the beach with the flavors of his Peruvian roots using locally sourced products to produce all of his products. Thanks to Zarate’s influence, the demand for Peruvian food just keeps heating up in L.A.
For his restaurants Rosaline and the newly revamped Pikoh cantina, Zarate sources the ají amarillo, a pepper that is fundamental to Peruvian cuisine, yet not sold commercially in the U.S. from Javier Van Oort, who has been growing the pepper in his Laguna Nigel backyard. A civil litigator by day, Van Oort has around 120 plants and they currently supply eight different restaurants in California. Zarate is also partner and culinary director at Los Balcones.
Zarate’s ceviche is legendary, with five to six variations on any given day on the Pikoh menu. The lomo saltado (beef tenderloin with heirloom tomatoes, potatoes onions, cilantro and lomo sauce) and chicharron de pollo (aji panca with juicy marinated crispy chicken nuggets with ricoto aioli) are a divine match with the causa de cangrejo featuring Van Oort’s amarillo pepper, pressed potatoes, fresh crab and avocado
At Rosaline, ask for the lomo al trapo, a popular off-the-menu item with a process unlike anything you’ll find in Los Angeles. It starts with a seared 12-ounce filet mignon that gets wrapped in banana leaf, which is then wrapped again in a cocoon of spices and cloth, tied up, and hung a few feet above a grill that burns bright with almond wood and Japanese charcoal. After a few minutes, the crafted meat-pod sweats, dripping juices slowly into the fire. —Michele Stueven
Rosaline, 8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (323) 297-9500. rosalinela.com.
Los Balcones, 11334 Moorpark St., Studio City; (818) 924-2323; 1360 Vine St., Hollywood; (323) 871-9600, losbalconesperu.com.