With more than 10 years of fine-dining and hospitality experience and extensive knowledge of French, contemporary American, and Latin cuisines, Erik Ramirez joined the opening team at Raymi in the Flatiron District in May 2012. The Passiac, NJ, native earned his culinary arts degree from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. Upon graduation in 2004, he became a line cook at two Starr Restaurant Organization establishments in Philadelphia, including Alma de Cuba under Executive Chef Jose Garces, and Washington Square under Executive Chef Marcus Samuelson. In 2005, he made the move to New York City and worked on the line at Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Frederick’s Madison on the Upper East Side. Within 12 months, Ramirez became sous chef at Eleven Madison Park where he worked intimately with Executive Chef Daniel Humm and six other chefs to create daily specials and develop tasting menus.
“I learned so much from working with Daniel—how to respect ingredients, be very attentive to details and techniques, and inspire the kitchen team to put out top- quality dishes,” Ramirez says. “The experience really helped shape my personal culinary and leadership style.”
Ramirez assumed his first chef de cuisine role at Irving Mill in Union Square after his two-year stint at Eleven Park Madison. Here he worked directly with Executive Chef Ryan Skeen and was responsible for developing the seasonal menu. During his tenure, the restaurant earned critical acclaim from local media. When Irving Mill closed in early 2010, Ramirez took the opportunity to explore Nuevo Latino cuisine in the fine- dining setting of Chef Adam Schop’s Nuela in the Flatiron District. While he was chef de cuisine, Nuela earned high marks from publications such as The New York Times, New York magazine, and Zagat.
Renowned Latin fine-dining Chef/Owner Richard Sandoval and celebrated Peruvian Chef Jaime Pesaque learned of Ramirez’s talent and dedication when they were looking into purchasing the Nuela space for their new Peruvian restaurant, Raymi. Ramirez was hired as Raymi’s chef de cuisine, working intimately with Chefs Sandoval and Pesaque who personally trained and mentored him to oversee the menu development and daily kitchen operations. To gear up for the summer 2012 launch, all three chefs visited Peru on a fact-finding culinary research trip.
“Spending time in Peru opened my eyes to the depth of the country’s food culture and has given me more of an identity as a Latin chef,” he says. “It has many of the spices and flavor profiles I’m already familiar with, and is also influenced by cuisines from around the world, including Spain, China, and Italy.”
In addition to his professional kitchen experience, Ramirez enjoys leading public cooking classes and has participated in numerous live demonstrations, charity dinners, and fund-raising events. He has cooked at the James Beard House and at several culinary festivals. A proponent of teaching and training, he is also seasoned at presenting TV cooking demos in both English and Spanish.