Archives for posts with tag: food

One of our biggest and most interesting challenges at 4 Suyos is to create food that EVERYONE can eat. We want all of our customers to be able to enjoy the incredibly dynamic tastes of Peru, whether they are vegetarian, vegan, or have a gluten-free diet. Aside from our current menu that has some vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, we will do our best to modify or transform a dish to our customer’s liking–often replacing regular wheat beer with our chef’s homemade chicha de jora (more on that later). However, one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made over the last few months is telling our customers that our mazamorra morada (purple corn pudding) is not gluten free. Well, I was wrong. I sat with the chef yesterday and watched him prepare our mazamorra, and to my surprise, he was using sweet potato flour! So, for all those gluten-free folks I steered away from the mazamorra, I’m so sorry. Come back and try it!

Now, if you’ve not been to 4 Suyos or any other Peruvian restaurant, you may be thinking, what IS mazamorra? Mazamorra is a traditional Peruvian dessert made with the extract of purple corn. It is made by first making chicha morada. Then the chicha is mixed with pineapples and plums and then thickened into a pudding.

It is delicious served as el clasico. El classic is the combination mazamorra morada and arroz con leche. It is named for a famous futbol match between the two biggest soccer teams in Peru, Alianza Lima and Universitario. (If you haven’t been to the restaurant, you may not know about the photo scandal concerning this dessert…)

So, no gluten in 4 Suyos homemade mazamorra. Enjoy!!

Image courtesy of farandulachola.com

I like to talk. I like to eat. These two things don’t mix well, often resulting a disgusted conversation buddy. However, when I’m at 4 Suyos, I can do my eating and talking–just not at the same time. One of my favorite conversation topics is conveniently, Peruvian food. Humberto is really the expert, but since he is generally knee deep in ingredients, I get to relay the Peruvian food info to the customers.

The number one question I get is what I would recommend. The answer to that is easy: everything. However, I understand eating a menu’s worth of food in one sitting isn’t generally possible, so I pick a few things I think are absolutely crucial Peruvian dishes to have tried to say you’ve had Peruvian food. One of those dishes is Papa a la Huancaina.

Papa a la Huancaina is a traditional Peruvian dish consisting of sliced, boiled potatoes topped with a sauce made with blended cheeses, cream, aji amarillo, garlic, and a few secrets our chef has asked we not disclose per his grandmother. It is a drippy, yummy slice of  highland heaven.

The dish originated in Huancayo, the capital of the Junin region in the Peruvian central highland and remains their signature dish. To this day it is served in just about every Peruvian restaurant, so if you stumble upon a restaurant claiming to be Peruvian, and they don’t serve Papa a la Huancaina, it’s safe to say you can consider it not Peruvian.

Lomo SaltadoNow that the restaurant “construction” is complete, and we are waiting for our license inspection, I’ve had a little time to learn more about Peruvian food. (Thankfully, I’m not the chef–that has been left to a team of Peruvians.:) However, I am a food nut, so this experience has been beyond wonderful.

I started with Lomo Saltado, one of Peru’s most famous dishes consisting of sirloin strips marinated in vinegar, Peruvian spices, and soy sauce stir fried with onions, parsley, and tomatoes. The stir-fry is served over rice with potato wedges. This is the traditional way to make Lomo Saltado, but be rest-assured, our chef has a few secrets!

When researching Lomo Saltado, I kept running across the name Gaston Acurio. And after researching the name, I’ve found I’ve been completely in the dark about Peruvian food until now. Gaston is Peru’s cuisine ambassador as well as one of the world’s most famous chefs. He owns several international restaurants, including Astid & Gaston, which he opened with his wife Astid in the Miraflores district in Lima. Since opening, the chain has spread to eight countries! (Gaston…come to the US!!!)

Gaston is also the star of La Aventura Culinaria, a culinary television show featuring the chef visiting Peruvian restaurants. He is also a published author.

I’m learning a lot from Gaston, including how to make Lomo Saltado!

Only days after we filed for a Illinois Business Tax number, we received a notice in the mail that we would be responsible for a Chicago soft drink tax (Home Rule Municipal Soft Drink Retailer’s Occupation Tax). I was floored. I thought my sister had created the form as an elaborate prank. The one-page form was extremely informative and covered the basics of who should file, what “soft drinks” consist of, and when I need to file.

Basically, if you sell soft drinks in Chicago, you are responsible for paying this tax. Soft drinks include soda, sport or energy drinks, sweetened tea, flavored waters, beverages with less than 50% fruits or vegetables, and all other drinks known as “soft drinks.”

We all have to pay taxes, so it’s not the tax I’m worried about…it’s having one more thing to remember.

We at 4 Suyos are currently in the application phase of the restaurant. APPLYING online was a cinch, knock on wood inspections will be too.

All I did was go here,  clicked on the “Get Started Online” button, and followed the step-by-step instructions.

I needed my Federal Employment Identification Number, which you can apply for here.

I also was asked for my Corporation Number which was assigned to me when I created my corporation at the IL Secretary of State.

I submitted my application, and upon submission, I was asked to submit two documents via fax–proof of sanitation certification and a lease. Once I submitted those, I was emailed and asked for my Illinois Business Tax Number, which I applied for here.

Now, we wait. We wait to get an inspection appointment and wait to see if we pass.

In the meantime…our heater broke. 😦 Oh well, good things and bad things, but more good things!

The poor man next to me on the train falls asleep for a second after every word he gets on his crossword puzzle. Exhaustion–I get it.

While we are still working on construction, we have a menu to hammer out. There are certainly disagreements about which Peruvian dishes to feature (they are all so good), as well as disagreements about where to get ingredients, what specials we will feature, and who cooks what when.

All and all I can say there are some extremely passionate people involved in the birth of 4 Suyos.

Do you have a favorite Peruvian dish? Or is there something you couldn’t imagine a Peruvian restaurant not offering?

If you’re not familiar with Peruvian cuisine, check out this site.

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I first need to start out by saying that we are making no structural changes to the location. Pulling a permit and working with a licensed contractor in Chicago is too expensive for our meager budget. Thus, I called my extremely handy father in from Austin, TX where he was an organizer for Occupy Austin. (Sorry Occupy Austin, he’s on his way back Friday.)

Instead of building, we’ve opted to clean, sand, and paint. This is hard–the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life. Every wall has to be sanded several times, old paint has to be scraped, caulk has become our wall nutrition, and the balls of grease scraped from the fryers and ventilation system–well, I’ll save you the gory details.

Below are a few photos of the restaurant before and during construction. The crazy blue-eyed man is my dad; Humberto is the “feminine” sander; Daniel is hiding around the corner giving a thumbs up; and Courtney, my sister, is apprehensively adding joint compound to the entryway via a makeshift ladder system devised by my dad. Oh, and I’m the blurry one hammering at the wall.

You can see more photos here.

4 Suyos Construction

Humberto sanding the mural

4 Suyos Construction

Erin Hammering Away

4 Suyos Construction

Here's Kevin!

4 Suyos Construction

Daniel Peeking

Courtney Compounding