The news from Ottoman, one of Canberra’s most beloved and awarded restaurants, is all good….
Mr Papa’s Chef Carlos Ramirez was front and centre at May’s Winning Appliances Sunday Supper Club. We caught up with him to talk life, food and everything in between.
Carlos Ramirez is the founder of Mr Papa Peruvian-Street Food – Catering and considers himself a little ambassador of his country wherever he goes.
His career started 15 years ago, with a degree in Hospitality Management in Lima in Peru, a move prompted by the passion for food and hospitality he discovered as a six-year-old helping with his grandparents’ catering business.
From there it was on to positions with international hotels and restaurants, before he landed in Australian in 2010. Three years later he made his own dreams come true, launching Mr Papa, alongside his brother Moncho.
What is your earliest food memory?
As a kid—weekends at my grandparents’ business helping and tasting everything in the kitchen. Getting up early mornings to come with my uncle to the farmers market, only to experience being in touch with producers and learning how to establish relations with them.
What led you to a career as a chef?
Ever since I was a kid, I discovered that I was born to be in this industry. Hospitality is in my blood and then I confirmed this after seeing my family involved too.
Also by doing this, I have the opportunity to promote my culture wherever and also found that cooking has incredible power in different ways to benefit the community.
Tell us a little bit about your food journey—how did you get to where you are today?
I always relate my food journey to my childhood and the great experiences I had. When I was 12-years-old I was told that I was responsible for the food purchase for different events. This was a real task given by my uncle and I did not want to disappoint.
Since then I took this seriously (I know I was a kid) but I think it was in my DNA. I started to be curious about how it works and enrolled in university right after finish high school.
Hospitality has given me the opportunity to learn from a great professional in hotels in Peru, USA and Australia. I always wanted to create something my own—in a way to pay tribute to my culture and family traditions—but at the same time have fun. This is how we decided to come up with Mr.Papa so Peru can be known by everyone in this part of the world.
What’s been your career highlight so far?
Having the chance to work in some of the best restaurants and hotels chains in the world was definitely something that gave me confidences and support to do what I do with Mr.Papa every day.
What do you love most about being a chef?
Cooking is a beautiful way to bring happiness to people so I wanted to learn more about it, study and experience every day. When you cook there is always a chance to reinvent yourself every day so it was the right choice for me.
What’s your favourite thing to whip up when you’re at home with your family or friends?
My kids love empanadas, but when it comes to friends and family gatherings. There is nothing that can beat a good plate of ceviche. For Peruvians, the right mix is ceviche + beer + football.
Tell us about Mr Papa—what experience are you trying to create for diners?
We wanted to come up with two experiences:
Mr Papa Food trucks: Peruvian street flavours on the go inspired by our favourites street food dishes from childhood and what mum used to cook.
Mr Papa Catering: Bring Peruvian flavours and ingredients combined with local produce while we cook and give creative fun food experiences to the amazing Canberra Community.
In other words, going outside the box to in comparison the traditional catering offer.
How would you describe your food philosophy?
Hearty flavourful dishes that will bring you a smile. Good techniques combined with passion and respect to traditions.
What are your favourite places to eat in Canberra?
When it comes to eating I’m very easy. In fact, one of my favourite dishes is steamed rice and a fried egg. If I have to pick a few places to eat in Canberra, my top five would be: Brodburger, Leong Kitchen in Campbell, and La Baguette at ANU for a daily freshly baked French Baguette.
What appliance/s found in the Winning kitchen/showroom would you love to get your hands on?
One of the combi-steam ovens!
You can visit the Winning Appliances Kingston showroom at 80 Giles Street in Kingston or browse online at winningappliances.com.au.
Photography: 5foot Photography
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