Handsome men in the kitchen have a hypnotic effect, and Peruvian chef Franco Noriega is all the proof you need. The 30-year-old model and entrepreneur, who is the new face of Dewar's, talked to People CHICA about his current projects and passions. "Dewar's is celebrating this kind of partnership with Latin culture," he says. “They have this whiskey that is aged in rum casks, which is a very interesting twist. In my personal experience with food I am always innovating. I see innovation as a key element of my business. Immediately there was a connection with the spirit.”
Noriega is single, but mainly focused on his career now. But don't despair - he says “eventually, if the opportunity comes, I'm very open” to finding love. Get to know him better with these five fun facts.
1. Food was a passion from an early age. "My family are restaurateurs. They own several chain restaurants in Peru,”he says. "Being Peruvian, I was always exposed to gastronomy as part of our identity, of who we are." He moved to New York City when he was 17, went to culinary school in Manhattan, and always dreamed of opening his own restaurant. He made that dream a reality when he opened Baby Brasa in the West Village, focusing on organic Peruvian cuisine. "We are expanding. I'm opening a new restaurant. The more you grow, the more you rely on the people you work with and their talents. I'm very grateful for my team.”
2. Before becoming a chef, he was a model and worked in the fashion industry for years. “I got to travel the world and was exposed to different cultures and their cooking, and got to really try different dishes and experiment what the culture meant through food,” he recalls. “I've been all over the world, to Paris, Milan, Barcelona, Tokyo, São Paulo. I've also been to remote locations, to beaches in Brazil that you have to get to in a private plane to get this incredible shot of mountains mixed with ocean. You get to experience all these things as a model.”
3. He is committed to taking care of the environment. "I believe in organic and local foods. When you buy local foods and organic you are not only feeding the only body you have, but you are also taking care of the ecosystem. With all this talk about global warming, it's important to buy local products, to buy food that hasn't been transported for kilometers using gas,”he says. “We are always changing the menu to see what is in season; that way the ingredients we use are so much more delicious and fresh.”
4. I have cares about nutrition and fitness. "You always have to be on top of your game. You have to eat the best possible food there is around,”he says. “I've always thought of food as fuel for my body. You are what you eat, I believe in that.” He was also a swimmer as a child and continues to have an active lifestyle.
5. He enjoys surfing and skateboarding. “I skateboard or ride my bicycle, that's how I get around in the city. I've been surfing all my life. In Peru, you live in front of the ocean and you surf in the morning and at night. When I moved to New York that was one of the things I missed about being in Peru, surfing and the ocean, so skateboarding is the closest thing,”he says about what brings him joy in the Big Apple.