Today we’d like to introduce you to Emmanuel Piqueras.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
When I was growing up, being a chef wasn’t seen as the most prestigious position. Now, being a chef is a distinguished and respected career. I’ve been cooking since I was eight years old, but when I went to school, I studied marketing. My first job was then as a salesman, selling oil for machines and cars, and I remember I was making good money for my age.
However, I was unhappy doing that job just for the money. It was then that I realized I should cook for a living! So when I was 22, I knocked on the back door of the acclaimed Pantagruel in Lima, Peru. When they asked for my culinary experience, I shared that I’d been making ceviche since I first started surfing. From there, I trained with Luis Armando “Cucho” La Rosa, who was the top chef of Peru at the time. From that point, I worked within various restaurants including Michelin star locales, such as Arzak in San Sebastian.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There has been one main challenge. I worked in Peru for most of my career, but in 2003, I decided to come to the USA. Within my restaurants, the biggest struggle I came across was sourcing the Peruvian ingredients. Back in the day, it was very difficult to source what I needed. This has gotten easier with time.
Please tell us about Pisco Rotisserie & Cevicheria.
At Pisco Rotisserie & Cevicheria, I am bringing modern-day Peruvian cuisine to Southern California. As the Executive Chef, my mission to introduce Peruvian cooking and its unique palate of ingredients to the city of San Diego. We are known for our delicious ceviche made with “Leche de Tigre” as well as our Pollo a la Brasa, which is our rotisserie chicken that is marinated for 96 hours in a special Peruvian spice mix.
What I am most proud of surrounding this restaurant is the culinary team in both our Carlsbad and Point Loma kitchens. Most of these guys are not Peruvian yet they understand perfectly how the Peruvian flavors work. I’m very proud of them.
What makes Pisco different? While most Peruvian restaurants do the same thing and focus on traditionalism, Pisco has this great southern California flair and the menu possesses a local identity. I am also proud about how we use quality local ingredients!
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I have beloved memories of my grandfather’s personal chef, and for some reason, I was the only grandchild who spent time in her kitchen. She had been in my family since my own mother was 3 years old, and since I was a little boy, I had spent so much time around her while she cooked – I felt so secure in that space.
So, fast forward to when my own son turned 4 months old, I asked my mother for advice on what to feed him. She sent along a recipe for bone marrow broth, which is very good for a baby’s development. When I took this recipe to my own kitchen and started to boil the bones, the smell immediately transported me to my youth in that kitchen with my family chef.