Owner & Executive Chef
As owner and executive chef of the acclaimed Costanera Cocina Peruana, Montclair’s hip Peruvian restaurant, Chef Juan Andres Placencia’s skill and expertise quickly elevated the New Jersey dining scene. Now, with the November 2018 opening of his new SOMOS in North Arlington, he brings another desirable destination for Latin dining to New Jersey. As SOMOS’s meaning is “we are”, the concept allows Chef Juan to offer his guests the entire universe of Latin cuisine from his expert perspective.
Juan’s culinary journey started early on. At the age of two, his parents, Willy and Ana Placencia, moved their family from Lima, Peru to Union City, New Jersey to open their first restaurant, San Andres in 1989. This was the first of several popular Peruvian restaurants the Placencia's have brought to the area. In 1996, they opened their second restaurant, Oh! Calamares in North Bergen. It was here, spending countless hours looking over his father’s shoulder in the kitchen, that Juan discovered his own passion for restaurants and the Peruvian cuisine of his home country. In 2000, Juan turned his passion for food into a profession and earned a degree from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America.
Throughout his career, Juan has gained invaluable experience working for the most prominent chefs and restaurateurs in New York City. While at CIA, Juan interned for the renowned Jean-Georges Vongerichten at his dazzling French restaurant in Columbus Circle, Jean Georges. After graduation, He started as a line cook working under Tom Colicchio at Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern, serving contemporary American cuisine. A year later, he moved to Eleven Madison Park to expand his skills in dining room service. While learning this facet of the business was invaluable to a budding restaurateur, he followed the lure of the kitchen and in 2003 found himself working side by side with his father at the opening of the Placencia's second Oh! Calamares in Kearny. In 2005, Juan returned to dining room service at the romantic Italian spot, Va Tutto, where working for Laurie Tomasino thoroughly assisted in refining his skill and knowledge of hospitality. After Va Tutto closed, Juan was hired as the Dining Room Captain at Gotham Bar and Grill and remained there for three years. He then moved on to Mario Batali’s Italian gem, Del Posto before seizing the opportunity to open a restaurant of his own.
Chef Placencia’s lifetime of learning and frequent research trips to his home country makes him an expert in South American cuisine and he often demonstrates his cooking skills on various television shows. With a deep love of authentic Peruvian cuisine cultivated at an early age, Juan Andres Placencia offered his Costanera guests an authentic, but refreshingly new take on Peruvian cooking. Now, at SOMOS, he is thrilled at the opportunity to serve his own knowledgeable and delicious take on many of the world’s most distinctive and revered Latin cuisines.