Peruvian comfort food restaurant opens in Elgin in former location of Veranda Grill | Business






Javier Uriarte, owner and chef of Ratio. Image taken from Ratio’s Facebook page.


Chef Javier Uriarte shares his Peruvian heritage with the Midlands through the opening of his restaurant, Ratio.

Born in Peru, Uriarte moved to the United States at the age of 14 where he spent his teenage years in Maryland. He started working in the fast food industry where he quickly rose through the ranks. “When I was working, I always did everything with pride, even if I didn’t see myself becoming a chef,” he says.

Uriarte said the variety of food shocked him when he first moved to the United States. “It was so weird when I came here, it was culture shock,” he said. According to Uriarte, having any type of meal on the table in his home country was considered a blessing, so learning about the vast options in the United States was a new concept to soak up. The fast food concept was not an option where he grew up. and his first restaurant experience with drive-thru was in the United States.

“I come from a very poor town in Peru, I grew up with nothing, so eating for us was a blessing,” he said. “You ate what was on your plate.” Uriarte said that when his family sat down at the table, they took time to enjoy the food in front of them and because of that, the food became an emotional feeling for him.

While continuing to work in various fast food restaurants and learning about the food industry, Uriarte soon found himself working in the nation’s capital in fine dining establishments ranging from French to Asian to Nordic cuisine.

In 2013 Uriarte decided to move to Colombia to be with his girlfriend back when he started working in various restaurants in the city.

“It was the first time I left my parents’ house, but I started a new life here,” he said. “When I came to Columbia, I was introduced to Southern hospitality. Everyone is so nice and calm, and there’s a slow atmosphere. They take life as it comes in the South and don’t don’t see it as a race.

His fascination with the Southern lifestyle led him to love the area enough to stay there and pursue a dream he always had in mind, but never achieved. Uriate left school to work full-time in the culinary arts to expand her repertoire in hopes of one day opening her own restaurant.

“Every chef’s dream is to have their own restaurant, but I didn’t know when that was going to happen,” he said. “But I knew it was coming.”

Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Uriatre was offered a glimpse of a restaurant space that was most recently occupied by Veranda Grill. “I walked around the restaurant for an hour and saw the potential of the place,” he said.

Uriarte decided to buy the space and make it his own. In naming the restaurant, he carefully considered what he wanted it to reflect.

“The name itself means how to make food,” he said. “There are ratios for everything in food, for pastas, soups, dressings, drinks.” Uriarte discussed the name and the idea behind it with her fiancé who is also her business partner, and said she loves it.

“Everything I did for the restaurant required ratios; food, drink, atmosphere, lighting, service, plating and service,” he explained.

Ratio’s menu items will include a variety of Peruvian comfort foods. “I’m focused on giving people the emotion that comes from comfort food,” he said. “I want to convey the emotion of comfort and confidence in my food. I want to establish a relationship of trust with my clientele so that they can try new things and enjoy them.

Uriarte has not revealed its entire menu in order to keep an element of surprise for its customers. He said he wanted guests to get a picture or idea of ​​what the menu will include before dining at Ratio, and then leave them surprised at how unexpected the cuisine is. “I like the psychology of people coming in not knowing what to expect and being surprised,” he said.

His hope for the restaurant is that residents of the Midlands will enjoy the uniqueness of his creations and the variety of dishes the United States has to offer. “I think people can take it for granted that they have food all the time,” Uriarte said. “Not many people can just go to the store and buy food.”

Ratio will hold its pre-opening Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The restaurant will open Wednesday through Saturday beginning September 30 at 566 Spears Creek Church Road in Elgin.

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