Mauricio Valverde's classmates are probably jealous of him. The 24-year-old is currently a student at the Miami Culinary Institute in Downtown and is already running his own restaurant. He's offering his take on Peruvian fusion at Rizio's, focusing on Novo-Andino cuisine which has become quite popular in Peru. The restaurant has been open since November 17 2012, but Valverde's culinary vision has been forming for quite some time.
Where did the idea for Rizio's come from?
The idea is a mix of me and my father's. He's been wanting to open a restaurant for a while now here in Miami. My concept is fine dining. My dad's concept is Peruvian food. He opened a restaurant back in Peru in 1996, so he has the know-how. I bring the cooking.
How did you get started in food?
I love food. I started cooking at the age of 17. I learned from seeing others in the kitchen. I really learned from my grandmother, though. The first dish I remember making was chicken parmesan for my sister.
Can you talk a little about the menu?
I'm all about fusion. I like bringing in Italian, Asian, French aspects into my cooking. But here, you can find a mix of Peruvian and Italian. We have some great quinoa dishes, which are a little healthier than beans. We have a colorful trio of ceviches served according to the spice level you like. Tiraditos are small sashimi-style slices. You can get those with fish, octopus and a shrimp one is in the works.
What made you choose North Miami to open your restaurant?
There aren't a lot of restaurants in the area doing fusion. I'm making inspired Peruvian food in a casual, fine dining setting. I want people to look at a dish and think it is beautiful, but to then say it tastes even better than it looks.