Ceviche: Dedicated to Peruvian Food

After several years running Apple iTunes, Pan Europe and Disney Music, Peruvian born Martin Morales boldly quit his job and sold his house to dedicate his life to Peruvian culture, music and most importantly food.

Peruvian-born founder Martin Morales talks Ceviche

Ceviche began as an intimate supper club in Martin’s home and quickly evolved into a string of successful pop-ups around London.  His passion for his country's food has led him on a lifetime's quest for the best recipes and freshest ingredients both in Peru and Britain and after the pop ups' success, Martin then gathered a world-class team and opened Ceviche in Soho in March 2012.

Martin has appeared on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen and was the first chef to cook Peruvian food on British TV. His first book, Ceviche Peruvian Kitchen, coincided with Britain’s first pop-up tour that saw Martin return to his cooking roots in cities and towns around Britain.

Who inspired you to set up Ceviche?

My great aunt Carmela was my inspiration as a child. Not only did she teach me to cook and to love food, but she also taught me about the art of hospitality.  She was born in a village in the Andes called Santiago de Chuco. In my book Ceviche Peruvian Kitchen, I have a delicious dish named after her called ‘Carmela's Chicken’ which to this day, I cook and serve to my children. They love it. 

What makes your restaurant stand out in such a competitive market?

We are an independent restaurant pioneering Peruvian cuisine. We use fresh ingredients, sourced ethically and locally whenever possible. And we think creatively – our dishes are authentic and exciting new takes on traditional Peruvian cuisine, our service and hospitality is amongst the best in London and the atmosphere in our restaurant is exciting.

Peruvian food is huge right now, but trends come and go.  How as a business do you react to the changing marketplace?

Trends may come and go but our cuisine has been around for 500 years so we feel we are here to stay!  As a team we aim for the highest quality in terms of sourcing ingredients, cooking, presenting and service to ensure we continue to be one of the best restaurants in London.

How does your central London location influence your business?

I have lived and worked in Soho for many years so we feel like we are a part of the community.  Our neighbourhood is everything to us.  We do our best to listen to our customers and create dishes that not only we feel passionate about, but that our neighbours will love too.  We are also very involved with events within our community, from Soho Food Feast, a fundraising event for Soho Parish Primary School, to supporting the way we dispose of waste ecologically.

We know that you went on Britain’s first pop-up tour. What do you feel you achieved most from that tour?

I wanted to build on our mission to introduce the British public to Peruvian food and excite them about our dishes. But as well as this, we learnt a lot as a team from partnering with some of Britain’s most exciting restaurants, including The Ethicurean in Bristol, The White Lion in Aldeburgh, the Padstow Seafood School and Moshimo in Brighton.

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing foodservice businesses like yourselves today and as a business, what are you doing to overcome this challenge?

The rising price of ingredients is a huge challenge for businesses like ours.  But we do our best to develop great relationships with our suppliers to better understand what flexibility we might have when creating new dishes, and this way we have risen to the challenge.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?

When I was Head of Apple iTunes Pan Europe, Steve Jobs once said "Trust that the dots will join up in future". I have never forgotten this advice…

What is the one piece of advice you would give to other chefs/entrepreneurs looking to succeed in the industry?

Do what you love but always listen to others.  Don't be guided by your ego, but simply by your love to serve and make others happy