Pacifica's Peruvian Ceviche

For a year, Stephanie O’Mary-Berwald worked in a New York City restaurant kitchen for free.
  • For a year, Stephanie O’Mary-Berwald worked in a New York City restaurant kitchen for free.

Pacifica Del Mar

1555 Camino del Mar, Del Mar

Recipe by Stephanie O’Mary-Berwald, Executive Chef, Pacifica Del Mar

I’ve never been the person to bring in the molecular cooking. When I cook at home, I keep it easy — chicken and green beans and shallots. Pasta. I don’t like to make a big to-do.

Before I started to cook, I was an English major at Columbia University. Then I got to know Todd English at Olives, in New York. I had no experience whatsoever, but I loved what they did and I saw that they loved what they did, too. I called Olives every day repeatedly, until they let me in. I worked in Todd’s kitchen on the lunch shift without pay for a year to learn about the business while I took morning classes at Columbia.

I don’t really have a specialty in the kitchen. I grew up in Dubai and was lucky enough to travel when I was young and to be exposed to different cuisines. I was in the Mideast during the first Gulf War, and my mom is from Peru. I was classically trained at the French Culinary Institute, and I helped my friend out with his upscale sandwich shop in Los Angeles. I’ve opened up fine-dining establishments, and I’ve worked in pizzerias.

I have a grasp on every part of the kitchen, and I’ve worked in a lot of kitchens, but I just love Mediterranean food: Spanish, French, Italian. I love introducing people to new foods done classically. To me, it’s more about doing things simply and letting the ingredients speak for themselves.


  • Serves 6
  • 2 pounds local halibut fillet (skin trimmed off so only white fish is being used)
  • 10 limes (juiced)
  • 2 aji peppers, veins and seeds removed (substitute with frozen or habanero)
  • 10–12 leaves of cilantro (roughly chopped up)
  •  Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 pound cooked Peruvian white corn kernels (if you cannot find, regular white corn can be used as a substitute)
  • 1 small red onion (sliced into very thin rings)


Cut the halibut into 1-inch cubes and cover with the lime juice. Purée the aji peppers with a little bit of water in a food processor or blender.  Mix the purée into the fish-and-lime mixture.  Next, mix the cilantro in and season to taste with kosher salt. Allow the mixture to marinate 30 minutes in your refrigerator. To serve, use a martini glass or other deep glass and fill each with a little corn, then the ceviche mixture, and finally top with some red onion rings.  Serve cold.

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