Ricardo Zarate's culinary star flew high for a few years, with his first restaurant Picca receiving a Best New Restaurant nod in GQ from Alan Richman. A long time Eater 38 resident, Zarate was known around the city for his inventive take on Peruvian cuisine. Partnered with Stephane Bombet, Zarate went on to open Mo-Chica in Downtown and Paiche in Marina del Rey, which received a Best New Restaurant nod from John Mariani in Esquire's annual roundup. Now comes word from an anonymous source that Zarate has been unceremoniously ousted from his restaurants.
The plucky chef, who started an inventive Peruvian eatery inside Mercado La Paloma back in 2009, is no longer cooking behind the stoves in any of his restaurants as of last week. In the meantime, Picca will apparently be the first one to switch concepts, after a successful run in Beverly Hills above the Sotto space.
No word yet on what will happen to Zarate's Suave Rico, the fast food rotisserie concept currently in development in Culver City, as well as Zarate's Blue Tavern in Santa Barbara, which opened last year.
This doesn't bode well for the future of Peruvian cuisine in L.A., with longstanding spots like Los Balcones del Peru and Mario's in Hollywood left to hold the banner. Richie Lopez, formerly of Paiche, continues to churn out some Peruvian-inspired fare at Brilliantshine in Santa Monica, but other than that it's not like Peruvian concepts are sprouting up in other parts of town.