Julio J. Ramirez

Julio J. Ramirez, Executive Chef Consultant – Edgar’s at the Quail Lodge

Julio J. RamirezJulio J. Ramirez was born on a small plantation outside of Managua, Nicaragua. His family moved to the capital when he was twelve, but he never lost his love for the rain forests of his childhood, and the fresh fruits, spices and flavors of his tropical homeland. He had always been interested in cooking, but his family wanted him to be a doctor. He was at a crossroads in life when a French chef gave him some food for thought, “If you want to be successful, you have to do what you love.” He quit the university and has never looked back.

Moving to the United States, Julio enrolled in English classes, and began working at several restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1976, He moved to the Monterey Peninsula to take a job as the executive chef of The Old Bath House, an upscale continental restaurant on the Monterey Bay. During his eight years at the Bath House, Julio won numerous awards in culinary competitions, earned the title of Certified Executive Chef from the American Culinary Federation, and was named 1984 Chef of the Year by the Monterey County Chef’s Association.

In 1985, Chef Julio decided to go out on his own. Along with his wife and partner, Marie Perucca-Ramirez, he opened The Fishwife Seafood Cafe in Seaside, California. The concept was simple: offer fresh, innovative, and healthful cuisine at reasonable prices. Drawing on his expertise as Executive Chef, and his exploration of traditional cuisines in Latin America and the Caribbean, Julio developed a menu combining the fresh seafood and produce available on the Monterey Peninsula with herbs, spices, and recipes from Europe and the Americas.

The Fishwife developed a large and loyal local following and a second restaurant was opened in Pacific Grove in 1986: The Fishwife at Asilomar Beach. The Fishwife’s dedication to its original concept earned it numerous awards and recognition, including being consistently voted “Best Seafood Restaurant” on the Monterey Peninsula by locals (Coast Weekly: The Best of Monterey, Adventures in Dining: Reader’s Choice Awards, CitySearch: The Best of Monterey, and the Dining Guide’s readers’ polls). The Fishwife has been named on the list of Top Ten Restaurants on the Monterey Peninsula and has won recognition as “Business of the Year” and “Restaurant Business of the Year” from the Seaside and Monterey Peninsula Chambers of Commerce.

Opening in 1990, the award-winning El Cocodrilo Rotisserie and Seafood Grill showcased Julio’s tropical heritage and established him as a pioneer in developing Nuevo Latino cuisine.

In 1997, a trip to the Yucatán Peninsula convinced Julio that there was another cuisine that had to be offered here on the Monterey Peninsula. The result was Turtle Bay Taquerias, continuing the Fishwife tradition of marrying tropical flavors with California style. Hailed by Sunset Magazine as one the “Great Taquerias of the West,” Turtle Bay offered fresh fish, citrus-marinated meats, fresh fruit salsas, and spices and marinades imported from Mexico.

Along with being a successful owner/operator of four restaurants, Julio has been active as a teacher on the Monterey Peninsula for many years. He has taught sanitation classes in Spanish and various culinary arts classes at Cabrillo College and Fort Ord and taught Latin American Cuisine as part of the Great Chefs Series at Monterey Peninsula College. Julio has served as a mentor for culinary apprentices and as an advisor to the culinary arts programs at Monterey Peninsula College and Pacific Grove High School. He has given motivational speeches to ROP classes at Peninsula high schools where students, especially Latinos, find him an inspiring role model. He has been a supporter of sustainable seafood since its inception, taking part in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions galas and working with the Aquarium to develop a Spanish version of its Seafood Watch card.

Chef Julio is the co-author of three cookbooks, The Fishwife’s Pearls: a Guide to Seafood Cookery, The Crocodile’s Cookbook: The Bounty of the Americas, and The Turtle Bay Cookbook: A Feast of Flavors from Latin America and the Caribbean, and of a series of articles published in the National Culinary Review. Julio has traveled extensively on six continents and uses these travels as the source for monthly “Special Features” articles for the Monterey County Herald that employ text, photographs and recipes to explore unique aspects of other cultures and their cuisines.

In 1996, Chef Julio was inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Chefs. He has served as president and chairman of the board of the local chapter of Les Toques Blanches, an international chefs’ organization, and as president and chairman of the board of the Monterey Bay Chapter of the American Culinary Federation. In January 2001, Chef Julio was awarded the President’s Medallion by the ACF in recognition of his contributions to the field of culinary arts. In November 2001, he and his wife, Marie Perucca, were honored as Monterey County’s Restaurateurs of the Year by the California Restaurant Association and became the first inductees into the Monterey County Restaurateur Hall of Fame. In November of 2005, Julio received the prestigious Antonin Carême Medal from the Chefs Association of the Pacific Coast, joining a distinguished group of chefs, including Julia Child, Martin Yan, and Narsai David, who have received this medal awarded to “honor those rare individuals who have made outstanding contributions in the culinary profession, education, and advancement of gastronomy and the culinary arts.”

In 2006, Julio sold his restaurants and formed the Food Wranglers, Inc, a restaurant consultant team specializing in menu development, kitchen productivity and efficiency, and staff training. He is currently Executive Chef Consultant of the Quail Lodge Golf Club in Carmel Valley.

When not cooking, Julio enjoys riding his motorcycle, scuba diving, and traveling to foreign lands. He especially enjoys visiting market places, farms, and other cooks’ kitchens—always on the lookout for new spices, produce, seeds, and inspiration for new recipes.

Page last updated on October 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm