If the success of Nazca Kitchen rides on enthusiasm alone, then it's going to be gangbusters. Owner Craig Collins, who owns Red Hot & Blue BBQ, could not be more excited about this new South American concept he'll open on December 21 at Walnut Hill and US 75.
Collins became infatuated with South American food a few years ago after a visit to Peru.
"I was getting divorced from my wife and it was one of those sad times when you're in the depths of despair, and I just fell in love with Lima," he says. "People talk about Paris or New York, but I see Lima as the culinary capital of world."
"People talk about Paris or New York, but I see Lima as the culinary capital of world," Craig Collins says.
His friend had a place in Brazil where he'd go surfing; he loved being greeted on the beach by peddlers offering a delicacy called the acai bowl, filled with pureed acai, a "superfruit" championed as a nutritional bonanza.
"The way they eat it in Brazil is with sliced bananas, granola and drizzled honey," he says. "It's refreshing and healthy. You feel recharged and ready to go. Another thing you get is grilled cheese. Not a grilled cheese sandwich – a shish kebab with chunks of cheese roasted until they look like a toasted marshmallow."
Nazca Kitchen will serve grilled cheese and acai bowls, along with roast chicken, sandwiches, fruit drinks, ceviches and grilled fish "tacos" with mango relish wrapped in butter leaf lettuce.
"For breakfast, we'll do a Venezuelan perico, it's like a burrito, filled with eggs, onions, tomatoes and peppers," he says. "It's South American comfort food. We're not trying to do things like other people."
Nazca's other big thing will be coffee, inspired by a latte he had in Vancouver.
"Right now there aren't any coffee places in this area, and I want to be serving great lattes," he says. "I visited a coffee place in Vancouver called Artigiano Café where they roast everything themselves. I had the best soy latte there I’ve ever had. They handed me a pouch of coffee, and the beans were from Brazil, Peru and Colombia."
"Right now there aren't any coffee places in this area, and I want to be serving great lattes," he says.
He brought back some beans and worked with Addison Coffee Roasters' Richard Duncan to develop a similar blend. He'll sell beans at Nazca, and Central Market will sell his brand, too.
"We were going to be Sanduche Café, which is Spanish for sandwich," he says. "But we Googled and found out that Nazca was untouched, trademark wise. Nazca and Kitchen, which is broader than 'restaurant' or 'café'. It could be whatever."
He loves the idea that his opening date is 12-21-12.
"We'll open on Friday, the day the world ends by the Mayan calendar," he says. "You can come in have your last meal."