Chef Nico, Pisco Trail

Chef Nico, Pisco Trail

Born in Peru, and based in San Francisco, I am the mixologist, writer, chef, and photographer for the Pisco Trail blog. I started my blog in 2011. Its mission is to share Peru’s food and culture through Pisco cocktails, stories, recipes, and pictures. I am also the resident Peruvian chef at 18 Reasons, where I teach Peruvian cooking classes and prepare pop-up dinners.

In San Francisco, I have taken Pisco masterclasses and tasting seminars with Encanto Pisco and Barsol Pisco, two award winning Pisco producers. I’ve published over 30 traditional and original cocktail recipes, and enjoy experimenting with modern techniques such as sous-vide to infuse Pisco with different ingredients. I’ve taught Pisco cocktail classes at CUESA and 18 Reasons. I have also been a judge at a Pisco cocktail competition in Healdsburg.

I learned to cook at an early age from my mom, and have inherited cooking traditions that were passed on from my grandmother. I travel to Peru often to visit family, do research, and stay up-to-date on culinary and cocktail trends. I have also taken cooking classes from Michelin-starred chefs in San Sebastian, and sushi chefs in Tokyo. I still enjoy cooking with my mom, especially for family celebrations.

My writing ranges from recipes to narrative, and I love to write stories about cocktails, food, family, travel, and culture. Marcus Samuelsson and Peru This Week have published my work. My writing page has links to stories on my blog and freelance work.

My photography complements the writing, and each cocktail, recipe, or story, has a picture. I do all the photography for my blog, and specially enjoy plating and arranging a dish before the shoot. Foodista has shared my Ten Tips for Cocktail Photography.

Outside the kitchen, I travel to learn about the food and culture in other countries. I also enjoy playing Afro-Peruvian, Flamenco, and Gypsy jazz rhythms on my hand drums. Movement and connecting with Pachamama (Mother Earth) is important to me. I do that by running on the mountain trails around the Bay Area, and dancing to Latin music.

I invite you to join me on the Pisco Trail.

— Nico Vera