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Q&A: Walker Peterson, ramen chef, chemist and entrepreneur

Walker+Peterson%2C+a+ramen+chef+and+entrepreneur%2C+will+appear+at+La+Macchina+Cafe%E2%80%99s+Rave+and+Ramen+event+Thursday.+Peterson+founded+vegetarian+ramen+pop-up+%E2%80%9CPop+Ramen%E2%80%9D+in+Cambridge%2C+Massachusetts.+
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Q&A: Walker Peterson, ramen chef, chemist and entrepreneur

Walker Peterson, a ramen chef and entrepreneur, will appear at La Macchina Cafe’s Rave and Ramen event Thursday. Peterson founded vegetarian ramen pop-up “Pop Ramen” in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Walker Peterson, a ramen chef and entrepreneur, will appear at La Macchina Cafe’s Rave and Ramen event Thursday. Peterson founded vegetarian ramen pop-up “Pop Ramen” in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Source: Boston Japan Festival

Walker Peterson, a ramen chef and entrepreneur, will appear at La Macchina Cafe’s Rave and Ramen event Thursday. Peterson founded vegetarian ramen pop-up “Pop Ramen” in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Source: Boston Japan Festival

Source: Boston Japan Festival

Walker Peterson, a ramen chef and entrepreneur, will appear at La Macchina Cafe’s Rave and Ramen event Thursday. Peterson founded vegetarian ramen pop-up “Pop Ramen” in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Kimberly Go, Reporter

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Rave. Ramen. Repeat.

La Macchina Cafe is hosting a Rave and Ramen event Thursday with ramen chef Walker Peterson. A chemist and entrepreneur, Peterson founded vegetarian ramen pop-up “Pop Ramen” in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to satisfy the Boston area’s demand for quality vegetarian ramen. “Pop Ramen” recently moved from Boston to Tokyo, where Peterson now lives. The Daily chatted with Peterson, who is visiting Chicago and Evanston, as well as some other spots across the United States, about how “Rave and Ramen” was conceptualized and why he started making ramen.

How did you come up with the idea for Rave and Ramen?

My current business partner for the Ramen Rave, Marco, he’s the owner of La Macchina, and I was speaking with him about maybe doing a pop-up event there, just serving ramen. I noticed they had this kind of amazing, dingy rave room in the basement. They just have this dance party room in the basement and I was like, “Wait a sec. We could do something with this.” The more I learned about La Macchina, the more I understood that it’s a destination for a lot of people who want to dance, NU students … I wanted to maintain that spirit of like college, you know, dance party, and also serve ramen. I want it to be pretty funky, like, “What is this Ramen Rave?”, you know what I mean? I like doing things like that.

When did you start making ramen and why?

I started in 2013, February. I loved ramen. I spent some time living in Kyoto in Japan, and I lived in a house with a bunch of Japanese dudes and it was a lot of fun. One of the guys in the house was obsessed with ramen, and at the time I didn’t really know what ramen was — you know, authentic, real, Japanese ramen. I had only been introduced to the instant ramen in the U.S. He kind of took me under his wing and showed me all these different crazy ramen places in Kyoto … At the time, I just knew I wanted to make ramen, and I thought this definitely can be a successful food in the U.S.

Could you describe the process of making ramen?

Ramen can be decomposed into five different components. So obviously noodles, the soup. When first people think about the soup, they don’t really think that it’s two components. There’s the tare, which is the flavor base, and then there’s the actual soup itself. One is like a concentrated flavor base and the other is like the stock, the body of the soup … And then the flavor oil, so what kinds of liquid fats you have in your bowl … And then the toppings. Those are the five components in a bowl and each one is very important. The balance and the relationship between them is very important so when you’re trying to make a bowl, you have to think about how they’re all going to come together.

Personally speaking, how would you say that ramen is best eaten?

I like ramen served hot. I prefer a nice presentation and I really like a relaxed environment, like maybe some nice jazz playing, maybe some Hiromi Uehara. Sitting. A lot of wood, being surrounded by nice wood, you know, wood table, wooden walls … I just get into the world, I just get sucked into this world of ramen, it’s amazing.

How does this compare to the Rave and Ramen event?

For Ramen Rave we’re doing a totally different concept. We’re thinking like, “Okay, how the heck are we going to manage mixing this ramen and like a crazy dance party?” One thing that I decided to do was use this 32-ounce to-go cup, like a hot cup. Instead of this nice ceramic bowl which you would be used to for a nice ramen bowl, it’s coming in this cup. You’re going to be handed this cup you can grip with one hand. So you can dance and eat your ramen … I don’t know how many people are going to want to sit down, eat their ramen. They might want to carry it with them, go talk to their friends, and that sort of thing, so it’s been a nice little challenge to kind of try to think of this new way, this new atmosphere.

Email: kimberlygo2018@u.northwestern.edu

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