Ricky’s Fish Tacos is leaving L.A. and heading to Kern County, at least for now

After more than a decade serving some of the best, most prized Ensenada-style shrimp and fish cakes in Los Angeles, taro Ricky Piña says it’s time for him to move from LA County — at least. in the near future.

The award-winning taro has garnered national attention, first appearing in Silver Lake in 2009 with a metal three-compartment filing cabinet that Piña converted into a makeshift fryer, then with a food truck parked mostly in Los Feliz, and more recently, in Hollywood, where he plans to sell seafood tacos over the next two weekends before leaving town.

Notice, posted monday night via Twitter, shocked Ricky’s Fish Tacos fans, who called the news “devastating”, “very sad” and a “terrible loss to LA” Piña, who plans to move to Kern County and sell his tacos in Bakersfield and beyond, saw the moment as an opportunity to live closer to his family there and plan his next steps, such as a home-fried product which he hopes to eventually release.

“I’ve stopped reading tweets now because I’m getting upset,” he said shortly after making the announcement. “I’m trying to tell them, ‘No, this is a happy thing, let’s keep having fun and let’s have our last tacos in LA'”

Ideally, Piña says he wants to find a parking lot that can accommodate his truck and its patrons during his last two weekends at work in LA, so as not to spill onto the sidewalk along the way. along a busy stretch of Sunset Boulevard. If he can’t, he plans to park at 5609 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, where he lives nearby, vending from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. October 21-23 and October 28-30. He also hopes to return to LA for events. Private events and other catering opportunities may arise.

He cites a host of factors that led to his decision to head north: the recent dissolution of a financial partnership; harassment, although he declined to elaborate; and street closures and countless other instances of red tape resulting in frustrating, temporary relocations. In 2020, he considered selling his business but still insists he’s not sure he wants to sell. He didn’t sell it, and dropped it. In March 2022, he paused service because the street he was selling had to be temporarily closed. This is not the last time this year he has had to close and reopen.

“I was closed for a few months and then reopened, then closed again because of the same problems,” he said. “The food industry, it’s very dark. It has its dark side.”

Throughout the hardships — especially in the last two or three years, he says — Piña is not to blame for Los Angeles, noting that there is good and bad everywhere, and most of the time he cooks. being in LA is a dream, especially for a boy to grow up to be a star while watching television in Baja.

Piña was born the youngest of seven siblings, whose father was a mechanic who tended to take his five sons outside to help him with mechanical work and, by proxy , covering his children with dirt. “My mother would hate it and she would ask him, ‘Leave one in the house that isn’t too dirty.’ And so I said, ‘Me! I! I’ll stay,” Piña said. “So I learned to cook with my mother.”

A plate of two fish tacos at Ricky's in 2013

Piña learned to cook with her mother in Ensenada. After moving to Los Angeles, he decided to try making his own fish cakes according to the family recipe.

(Javier Cabral / For The Times)

He will watch her work and help her prepare, asking questions every step of the way. By age 12, he could make bread dough, and by 16, he was cooking his own Thanksgiving dinner. He moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19, lived in Reseda and worked as a florist, lab technician and construction worker, among other gigs during the first few years, periodically visiting Ensenada – especially when craving fish tacos, one of his favorites. . “I would drive all the way to Ensenada because there are no good fish tacos for me,” he said. “You know how fussy you are when it’s your hometown food.”

Without them and in need of a little extra income, he started cooking according to the recipes of his mother, grandmother and sister, but adding his own personal touches. He first appeared on the sidewalk in Silver Lake, converting a metal filing cabinet into a fryer on wheels, drawers removed and tilted. Three months later, he had to upgrade to a larger fryer due to demand; In the following months, his weekend activity turned out to be much more lucrative than he had imagined.

“My boss from the flower shop said, ‘You go make your banh tet, get out of here.’ I said, ‘No, I don’t want to give up my paycheck.’ And he said, ‘You won’t need it, but in case you do, the door opens again for you.’ So he kicked me out, and he basically fired me because he knew I was going to make it.”

After being shut down by the health department, he secured a loan for his now-famous food truck, and started amassing more businesses. This chef has appeared on many culinary TV shows, demonstrating the attention he gives to each banh tet: swan powder soaked in garlic and made fresh every day from a mixture of flour, baking powder, yellow mustard, mayonnaise and salt. beautifully around the flesh of the fish. Once a smooth golden brown, it was placed in a Guerrero tortilla and topped with cabbage and pico de gallo. Some fans drive for hours, some live in other countries. Some include A-list celebrities, a dream come true for Piña’s teenage self.

“I used to see all the actors from Hollywood [on TV], and I would say, ‘Someday I might meet an actor or an actress,'” Piña said. “I got to do a lot of fun with Andy Garcia, and Kristen Stewart will eat at my place when I’m on Riverside Drive… what I did in LA was fun and it was more than enough for me, for me. that kid in Ensenada. . I take pride in my work and what I mean is it would be a loss if I didn’t fight for this product to survive. “

Like his appearance in LA, fans will find Ricky’s Fish Tacos in Kern County through Twitter posts announcing the date, time, and location the truck will appear. While there, Piña’s family wanted to help him build a more social media presence, beyond Twitter. His grandsons plan to film his last pop-ups in Los Angeles, and follow the drive to and from Kern; They also hope to launch a YouTube channel for chefs.

“When I get there, they will start recording how difficult it is or how easy it is for me to start over somewhere else,” he said. He knows that building his fan base from scratch can be tough, but tweaking isn’t something he’s too preoccupied with: “For me, this kind of work comes naturally, and Believe it or not, I’m a bit too much for everyone. I love to serve. I can do it anywhere, and I’m not afraid to start over or make less money here.”

You can put him anywhere, he says — right on the freeway or with people around or in the middle of nowhere — and he’ll make it work. But this weekend and coming, he’ll make it work in Los Angeles, at least for a little longer.

https://www.latimes.com/food/story/2022-10-19/rickys-fish-tacos-leaving-l-a-kern-county Ricky’s Fish Tacos is leaving L.A. and heading to Kern County, at least for now

Russell Falcon

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