Costa, sierra y selva.
Peru is a vast and mysterious country, unknown to most of the world, its culinary experience even more so.
No solo ceviche.
Due to its nearly 500-year melting pot of Spanish, African, Japanese and Chinese immigration and native Quechua culture, Perù is considered one of the places-to-be for the latest gourmet experiences from streetfood to fine dining. In the vibing capital Lima, Nikkei (Japanese-Peruvian), Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian), Cevicheria, Amazonic and Andean restaurants can be easily found. Flavors and styles of different traditions have come together harmoniously into one cuisine that is taking the world by storm starting from the most famous chefs.
In the 70’s, a young Nobu Matsuhisa had just moved to Lima to open his first small sushi establishment. Having difficulties in finding many ingredients he started experimenting using Peruvian ingredients and created his unique style blending traditional Japanese dishes with South American features. His Nobu and Matsuhisa restaurants are now spanning across five continents.
Coming back home after studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris in the 90’s, Gaston Acurio, famed Peruvian chef considered a real celebrity, was the first one to give a twist to his national cuisine, mixing up traditional ingredients such as corn and the 4000 verieties of potatoes in the most original ways in his restaurant Astrid&Gaston in Lima. Acurio is ambassador of the Peruvian cuisine in the world, always focused on the seasonality and sustainability of the products and the identities of indigenous communities of campesinos.
As for the new generation, Virgilio Martinez is considered the star of Avant-garde Peruvian cuisine. His restaurant Central in Lima has become the 4th best restaurant in the world and the best one in South America by The World’s Best Restaurants, in 2015.
Celebrating the ancient Andean heritage and the country’s biodiversity, the 38-year-old chef takes his guests on a journey through different ecosystems and altitudes: ocean, lower Andes, extreme altitude, high and low jungles are all represented in a 17 courses gastronomical roller coaster ride. The restaurant’s urban garden and the in-house filtration system (promising the purest of water) also play a central role.
Martinez is the founder of Mater Iniciativa, a cultural and biological diversity research project that combines gastronomy with nutrition, history, anthropology and science. He regularly travels across Perù to discover and investigate the most unknown local ingredients that will be later prepared with unique techniques in order to tell a story on the plates of the restaurant.