The New York Times Reviewed Chef Who Won’t Feed His 20-Month Old Daughter Fried Food or Sugary Juice

Quote from Chef Jose Luis Chavez

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My name is Jose Luis Chavez. I  was born and raised in  Venezuela and lived in Peru for  many years. I'm a chef and co-  owner at Mission Ceviche in  New York and I currently live in  Manhattan. My first restaurant  job was in Peru where I peeled  potatoes, cut Peruvian rocoto  peppers, as well as cleaned  and blended the aji amarillo.  The first Peruvian dish I ever  learned to cook was Lomo  Saltado (pictured below). Lomo  Saltado is a very traditional dish  that represents the Chinese influence in Peruvian cuisine. It's basically a filet mignon sautéed and pan-seared in a wok. The traditional recipe includes soy sauce, vinegar, onions and tomatoes. It’s a very simple dish, but the subtle techniques used to make a big difference.

After three months of doing kitchen prep, I began to cook for customers. The first dish I cooked for our restaurant guests was Lomo Saltado. After plating the food, I wandered into the dining room to see the facial expressions and reactions of the guests who ordered this meal.

It was there and then that I realized I wanted to make people happy through cooking.

Aside from Lomo Saltado, the other Peruvian dish I recommend trying at home is ceviche. In Venezuela, we rarely had fresh fish. When I moved to Peru and gained experience preparing ceviche, I smelled the freshness of the fish and lime. After trying proper ceviche for the first time, my mind was blown. The flavourful explosion of the fresh fish makes you feel like you’re eating something healthy and refreshing.

If you’re new to cooking, a good eight to ten-inch knife and solid wooden cooking board are important kitchen tools to have. Make sure that you sharpen your knife regularly. If you have a knife which is not properly sharpened, it’s actually more dangerous than a sharp one. My recommendation is that at-home chefs purchase a Wusthof knife. I bought my first Wusthof knife in Peru. At the time, it cost me $80, which was a lot of money, but I wanted a German steel knife with Japanese style.

The best way to save $100’s or $1,000’s of dollars grocery shopping per year is quite simple; check the prices before putting things into your cart.

I get it, we’re busy. We want to be out of the grocery store as soon as possible, but spending just a bit more time can actually save you lots of money.

I cook things such as quinoa, spinach and peppers for my 20-month old daughter. She also enjoys sliced fruit. I won’t feed her anything overly fried or processed. Growing up in South America, we would eat natural foods, harvested in rich and dark soil and I never experienced my friends or family having allergies. Nowadays, allergies are more common in people. I believe it boils down to how we grow and cook our food. I believe our children are going to have allergies if we feed them overly processed foods. If I give my daughter a juice box with 10g of sugar she’s going to love it, but I have to refrain from doing so because she’ll fall into a trap where she craves these foods or drinks. 

If I could cook for one person right now it would be Chef Alex Atala, a chef from Brazil. I also think a lot more people need to learn from New York-based Chef Erik Ramirez from the Llama Inn.

The best way for readers of Brasa Spatula School to support our culture is to try Peruvian food and visit my restaurant, Mission Ceviche.

Learn more about Jose Luis Chavez and Mission Ceviche by reading about them in the New York Times.