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{FOOD} FRANCO NORIEGA

From Olympic swimmer to international model and now returning to his Peruvian culinary roots, Franco Noriega has talent (and looks) by the spoonful. We discover what’s heating up in the kitchen at his newlyopened New York restaurant, Baby Brasa

How did you get into cooking?

I started cooking because of my grandma, Delphina. She was the cook in the house, and she was really good at it. She took care of us, me and my sister, and we were always in the kitchen with her. On the other hand, my parents owned a chain of bakeries, so I was always involved in the food business in a way. In my house we were always talking about and celebrating food!

Was it hard to get a venue off the ground in a competitive city like New York?

In New York everything is hard. Even before you start competing with others, who are already at the top of their fields, you have to get all these permits in order to operate. It was tough for sure; it took me three months to get up and running. Before Baby Brasa was a restaurant it was a beauty salon, I had to build it from scratch, so it was a bit more challenging than if it had already been a café. But I come from a family who were always creating concepts, creating something unique and packaging it and organising it. Whenever you open a restaurant, or any other business, there’s always wastage, and the trick – in order to make money – is to simplify the way the business works. That’s one side; the other is the aesthetics – the creativity, the menu.

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