Noriega started swimming competitively at a young age, eventually representing Peru at various worldwide championships. After retiring from his swimming career, he moved to New York City in 2007 to study singing and acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and started modeling after being discovered by the fashion photographer Mario Testino. Noriega has modeled for brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Roberto Cavalli, Louis Vuitton, and Hugo Boss. In 2012, he became the youngest Creative Director at Macy’s for the millennial division. In 2015 he attended the International Culinary Center in New York City and in 2016 after he graduated he founded the Peruvian restaurant BABY BRASA and subsequently opened the brand’s flagship location in the West Village as well as a full-service catering division which focusses on organic Peruvian cuisine. We sat down with Franco to talk about food, fitness, and the holidays!
MM: Franco, as we close 2019, what stands out as your proudest accomplishment this year?
FN: I think that being able to position ourselves as the number 1 catering service in NY is one of the things that makes the whole Baby Brasa team proud. It has been a lot of hard work and we are pleased to know that the public is receiving it in the best way!
MM: Culture is very important. How has that changed to the food you make and the life you live like a New Yorker?
FN: NYC is a multicultural city. My culture is none other than the result of everything I learn from all the other cultures around me. Keeping an open mind is the best way to learn and teach.
MM: How long has Baby Brasa been around? Any big things happening for the brand in 2020 we can tell our readers about?
We have already 5 years in the market with Baby Brasa. It looks easy but it has been a lot of sacrifices. We are excited about the new Baby Brasa pop-ups in the world. Starting with the first one in Rio de Janeiro this January 9th. In addition, our second Baby Brasa location in NYC is about to open as well. We are very excited.
MM: How do we eat healthier?
FN: The best dishes are protein-based. The recommended portion should never exceed the palm of your hand. Peruvian ceviche is a classic. And it does not exceed 200 calories. My other favorite dishes are all salads with green colors. It is fiber. You can eat as much as you want. But beware of dressings. More olive oil and less Ceasar dressing!
MM: Can you tell us one-morning routine or daily routine you do to stay so fit and carved? Help us out!
FN: Hahaha the secret is that there is no secret. When you eat balanced and constantly train the body will respond. The difference with me is that I have been exercising for 20 years. Non- stop. I do have a secret, I do not drink alcohol, but I do drink a lot of green tea every morning. It speeds up metabolism and is a magnificent natural antioxidant.
MM: How will you celebrate the holidays?
FN: I would love to do it with my family. But living so far does not always allow it. It is a very common reality of what we live in NY that when you are not with your direct family, we celebrate with your second family: the friends you make here.
MM: Any New Year’s Resolutions for 2020?
FN: This new year I am determined to contribute and get involved with a cause or purpose beyond my personal goals. I think it should be the resolution of many other people too. We have to help each other if we really want to make this planet a better place.
MM: Words to live by?
FN: Always surround yourself with people better than you. It is the best way to grow in all aspects of your life.