Zarate Chops The Competition To Become The People's Best New Chef

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Zarate: The People's Champ Photo: Hadley Tomicki

Last month, Food & Wine's Dana Cowin broke down all the complicated mathematics and editorial dexterity that went into nominating different chefs for the magazine's first ever "People Best New Chef" award. The public's votes have all been counted and today the results have been announced. The race for top Pacific honors didn't reach much further north than Calistoga, with four chefs from Los Angeles and six from The Bay Area and surrounding wine country in the running. So who took the inaugural top spot for California?

Ricardo Zarate, despite not being all that new, grabbed the top-spot, something sure to thrill legions of fans who have watched this Peruvian chef rise from an under the radar spot at Venice's Wabi Sabi to pulling double-duty as the owner and chef of critically praised Mo-Chica, which he opened in a South L.A. discount market in June 2009. The chef spread the word of his nomination through Mo-Chica's Twitter, which isn't exactly a juggernaut with only 359 followers. A majority of the comments left on Food & Wine's post were enthusiastically in support of Zarate and in Spanish, so perhaps the Peruvian community at large, in addition to the chef's many fans, helped push him to the number one spot.

Zarate's next project is the heavily anticipated Picca in Beverly Hills, which an associate told us just last night is likely still a month or two away from its debut. We'll have to see if this latest accolade makes reservations even harder to come by when it does.

he People's best new Chef: Pacific [Food & Wine]
Earlier: Slideshow: Ricardo Zarate Brings Peru to Century City [Grub Street]