As a part of our Women’s History Month series, we sat down with Miami-born chef Grace Ramirez to chat about her love for Zacapa rum, her philanthropic efforts and what this month means to her.
A native to Venezuela, Grace Ramirez grew up around rum and celebrating the beauty of the honey-colored elixir. So when she stumbled upon Zacapa rum two decades ago on St. Maarten, it was love at first sip. For years she touted the rum’s versatility; it was a liquor that easily paired with her dishes–both accentuating and complementing the flavors. Then finally through a mutual friend, she was introduced to master blender Lorena Vásquez and became an official World Wide Ambassador for the brand. Lorena leads the women-run enterprise of this Guatemala-produced rum, and Ramirez was eager to support another woman in the industry.
“Lorena is so inspiring to me,” Ramirez says. “She not only did another rum brand, she did a rum brand that celebrates women, celebrates Guatemala. It’s a beautiful product. She thought of everything–sustainability, helping other women, and it’s a stunning liquor. I am a true fan so my job is very easy.”
When Grace isn’t representing Zacapa, she’s immersed in giving back to her community. When the pandemic hit, she was one of the first chefs on the ground in New York City with World Central Kitchen, helping to distribute 500 meals a day, which eventually turned into 100,000.
“Giving back is my social responsibility,” she says. In life’s dark moments, giving back has pulled her out. “(Giving) is what fuels me.”
For Grace, this women’s history month is a special one because “it’s the first time we’re really understanding as women our power and our value.” The women in her family taught her to be strong and to speak her truth, so she’s dedicated her life to empower, mentor and celebrate women.
“You have to lift each other up,” she shares. “If you succeed, I succeed. We have to get out of that mentality that there’s few seats at the table. That’s no longer the case.”
Zacapa is available for purchase at Total Wine & More.
5050 Town Center Circle, Boca Raton; 561/391-1281; totalwine.com
Ceviche with Coconut Milk
While growing up, Grace’s large family would come together to share the meals that her grandmother had prepared. So before Grace left home for college, her Peruvian stepfather’s parting gift was bestowing a family ceviche recipe to ensure she didn’t go hungry. Today, Grace loves pairing a neat Zacapa with this classic simple dish that’s packed with flavor.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
- 2 lbs snapper, or any super fresh white semi firm fish including yellow tail or sea bass
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ red onion, finely chopped, julienne
- 1 whole serrano chile cut in half lengthwise, & the rest deseeded & finely chopped (optional to use habanero chile or ají Amarillo)
- 1 cup fresh lime juice
- 3 tbsp orange juice
- ¼ cup coconut milk, unsweetened
- 1/2 pomegranate, deseeded (optional)
- ¼ cup cilantro
- Flaky sea salt, fresh pepper, to taste
Place a medium size bowl into the refrigerator to keep cold.
Grab the whole serrano, cut in half and rub all over the bowl, so all the oil gets infused in the fish.
Dice the fillets into 1-inch cubes and transfer to the cold bowl.
Season the fish with a fine salt. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the coconut milk and garnishes. Fold together and add ice cubes. Keep chilled until ready to serve. When the fish turns white, remove the ice cubes, add coconut milk and serve.
When ready to serve, fold in the garnishes.