After a shift, what is your favorite guilty pleasure to eat? “Well, it depends where I’m at. But if I’m at Llama Inn, then it’s rice with lomo saltado, juices, French fries, rocoto crema, and some pickled chilis.”
Is there one dish you won’t cook? “I haven’t come across anything yet.”
All-time favorite spice. “Is salt a spice? Just kidding, it has to be cumin.”
What is your favorite music to listen to while you cook? “All the music I can’t listen to at home. Usually, it’s rap. Lately, I’ve been listening to some Gang Starr, Black Moon, and Wu-Tang.”
Did you grow up cooking as a kid? “Not really.”
What cookbook is your go-to resource for inspiration? “That’s a tough one. Lately it’s been 500 Años de Fusión by Gastón Acurio.”
After all these years working in restaurants, do you still enjoy going out to eat? “Yes, but I don’t do it as much as I would like. I now have kids.”
Is there one chef you’d like to cook with? “I have so much respect for too many chefs. Every cookbook on my shelves represents someone I’d like to cook with, and I have a lot of books.”
Name the all-time best cooking show. “Iron Chef and No Reservations.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “A small off-set spatula. It’s a very versatile tool. It keeps you from using your hands, like a spoon and tweezers.”
Erik Ramirez is the chef and owner of New York’s acclaimed Peruvian restaurant Llama Inn and the sandwich shop and food store Llamita.
Interview has been condensed and edited.