My name is Alejandro “Chicki” Ramirez. I live in East Marion. I’m the chef here at Taco Bout It in Riverhead. I’ve been the chef for one year, since we opened.
I’m a partner, too, with the Anthonys. [Owners Anthony Catanzaro and Anthony Cicogna]. They own Boom Burger. My partners and me, we did crazy colors inside.
I met them two winters ago in Mattituck. I worked over there in the Boom Burger in Mattituck for a few months — six months.
Before that, I worked for 20 years at Pepi’s restaurant in Southold.
My old boss at Pepi’s gave me the nickname Chicki. I don’t know why, really. Maybe because I’m short.
I learned how to cook in Mexico. My mom is from Oaxaca. I came here in 1996. First I came to San Diego, then I came to Manhattan.
So I learned how to cook [in Mexico] but my specialty is Italian food. I love linguini with clams or seafood. When I worked in an Italian place, I cooked Mexican food for myself. Now I work here and I make Italian food for me.
I started as a dishwasher in Manhattan at an Italian restaurant for maybe six months. And then I started to go up, doing prep work. Later, I started cooking. The people I worked with, they wanted to teach me. But it was hard to work in Manhattan. You have to work hard, little by little.
Then I went to Florida, I cooked over there. Then I came back and started working at Pepi’s.
I do everything here. I cook homemade salsa, homemade tortillas, tamales, tacos, burritos, chimichangas, fajitas, guacamole. We have grilled chicken, carne asadas, beans, rice. Everything is fresh. I make so many different dishes. It’s all authentic Mexican food.
We also do kids’ parties. I’ll put up a piñata. My brother works here in the kitchen, too. Everyone is like a family.
I’m happy working here. The people are nice; all the customers come back all the time to try something new. All the people leave happy. I feel good because people like my food.
“The Work We Do” is a News-Review multimedia project profiling workers around Riverhead Town. It is made possible by Peconic Landing. See more photos every Monday on Instagram @riverheadnewsreview.