How I got to where I am now:
I grew up in the restaurant business when I was a child in Peru and that experience never left me. When I was 11, I was the main cook in our household, so I’ve had a passion for cooking since then. For the past 10 years, I’ve been looking at ways of starting this and making restaurants the main part of my life - that is being involved in a restaurant business and bringing our Peruvian culture to Britain in a bigger way.
I’ve been living here for 20 years and after wanting it and thinking it for such a long time, I so glad that I've finally decided to stop talking about it and actually do it. I was waiting for the right time for me and for the market place to open this restaurant. I've invested every single bit of myself into this and that includes mine and my wife’s savings. We sold our house to do this and almost went bankrupt in the process.
My biggest challenge:
I’ve had some major challenges already with Ceviche. The entry point for restaurants is very high, both financially and operationally, so raising finance was incredibly hard. I knocked on the doors of 300-400 banks, institutions and individuals and most of them said no because a Peruvian restaurant has never been done here before. The restaurant sector is not seen as a great investment, so to enable a new company to find a new site is incredibly hard, particularly when you’re faced with competition with very large and dominating restaurant groups.
But, with the help and support of fellow restaurateurs that I've met along the way, I’ve been able to overcome all of those challenges.
My greatest achievement:
Opening Ceviche on March 1 2012.
What I love about the restaurant industry:
I love running my own business and being in a sector where people understand how hard it is. There are challenges in every sector and every piece of work that I’ve done - from filling up self-serve bins at the Co-Op when I was 15 years old; to making rubber seals for car parts in a factory when I was 16; to helping run iTunes when I was 32; to sitting on the board at Disney when I was 36 - there’s great rewards and lots of bullshit in everything, but in this industry, the personal rewards have been more exciting than anything else I’ve done before.
Why Latin American cuisine is proving so popular:
It's important to note that Latin America is a huge territory - as diverse as Europe or Asia. There are individual cuisines that are standing out at the moment which are pretty cool. Peruvian cuisine in particular has been thriving for a number of years. It is blended with influences from migrants coming from Spain, Africa, Italy, Japan and China and that’s what makesit so rich and interesting, with the fusion of cuisines it has created.
My advice to other entrepreneurs is:
For a start, if you have the option, you should choose to start your own business rather than rising to be an executive in a company. Entrepreneurial spirit is important, whether its running your own tuck shop at school to starting your own T-shirt business in a local market - it’s as important for anyone at any age and it’s crucial that we support new businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit inside any person.
The main piece of advice: just do what you love and trust that the dots will join up in the future.