From fusion to fine dining

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With Peruvian food gaining prominence in the fine dining sphere in the last decade, its rise in popularity on the global stage has become unavoidable. “The restaurant Central in Lima has climbed to first place on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant 2023, reconfirming Peru’s capital as one of the gastronomic centres of the world,” wrote Cecilia Rodriguez of Forbes Magazine. 

While not nearly as popular as Italian, French, or Mexican cuisine, Peruvian gastronomy is making its way into people’s top choices, with dishes like Lomo Saltado and Ceviche being favourites amongst foodies. With recent accolades for its fine dining scene, Lima can claim to be the leading culinary destination on the planet, shining a spotlight on the notable chefs and restaurants that have contributed to this throughout the years. 

Culinary fusion: the tapestry of Peruvian cuisine 

Peruvian cuisine stands out on the global stage for its remarkable fusion of flavours, reflecting the diverse cultural tapestry that defines modern Peru. A fascinating blend of indigenous traditions with Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, African, and other influences has birthed a culinary landscape unlike any other. From the ancient Andean civilizations’ mastery of crops like corn and potatoes to the arrival of Spanish colonisers sharing culinary techniques, Peru’s culinary evolution reflects the country’s rich and dynamic history. 

Peruvian cuisine stands out on the global stage for its remarkable fusion of flavours, reflecting the diverse cultural tapestry that defines modern Peru 

In the wake of independence, the influx of French and Italian chefs further enriched Peruvian gastronomy, followed by a wave of Japanese culinary artisans in the 1980s. This historical confluence of cultures has given rise to a vibrant food scene characterised by innovation and creativity. One exemplary manifestation of this cultural fusion is Nikkei cuisine, epitomised by renowned chef Mitsuharu Tsumura, affectionately known as Micha. 

At his acclaimed restaurant, Maido, Tsumura masterfully combines Peruvian and Japanese culinary traditions. Maido’s inventive plating and use of top-quality, fresh ingredients have earned the restaurant prestigious accolades, including the title of the best restaurant in Latin America in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2023. Diners at Maido are treated to a gastronomic journey that showcases the best of Nikkei cuisine. This culinary gem exemplifies Peru’s culinary prowess and its ability to captivate palates around the world with its unique blend of flavours and cultural influences. 

Gastón Acurio: pioneering the rise of Peruvian gastronomy 

Gastón Acurio stands as a towering figure in the elevation of Peruvian gastronomy onto the global stage, serving not only as a master chef but also as a passionate advocate for the culinary traditions of his homeland. With an entrepreneurial spirit and a keen culinary vision, Acurio has spearheaded the expansion of Peruvian cuisine across the globe, with a portfolio of around 34 restaurants, including nine in Peru. 

A pivotal moment in the ascent of Peruvian cuisine occurred in the early 2000s when Acurio graced television screens with a cooking show that not only showcased the vibrant flavours of Peru but also highlighted the country’s rich biodiversity and cultural heritage. Through his culinary endeavours, Acurio not only introduced Peruvian dishes to audiences worldwide but also shed light on the farmers, fishermen, and artisans who play integral roles in the country’s food ecosystem. 

At the heart of Acurio’s culinary empire lies Astrid y Gaston, a celebrated restaurant housed within a historic hacienda in San Isidro. Here, customers embark on a gastronomic journey curated by Acurio himself, indulging in exquisite meals comprising approximately 30 meticulously crafted dishes. With a focus on showcasing the diverse flavours of Lima and its surrounding regions, Astrid y Gaston embodies Acurio’s commitment to honouring Peru’s cultural heritage while embracing innovation. Through his culinary endeavours, Acurio continues to champion Peruvian cuisine, solidifying its place among the world’s culinary elite. 

Virgilio Martinez: elevating Peruvian cuisine 

Virgilio Martinez emerges as a leader in the realm of Peruvian cuisine, heralding a new era for gastronomy with his innovative approach and relentless pursuit of culinary excellence. Garnering accolades such as the title of ‘Best Chef of the World’ at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Chef’s Choice Award, alongside his wife Pia León, Martinez has propelled Peruvian cuisine to unprecedented heights on the global culinary stage. 

At the helm of Central, a culinary sanctuary nestled in the bohemian district of Barranco, Martinez pays homage to Peru’s rich biodiversity and cultural heritage. By meticulously sourcing indigenous ingredients from diverse ecosystems–a mission that has landed him in sticky situations, including a piranha smuggling incident–Martinez embarks on a gastronomic odyssey that showcases the vast tapestry of Peru’s culinary landscape. 

Martinez not only creates culinary masterpieces but also sheds light on the importance of preserving ecological and social environments. His restaurant Central serves as a nexus of culinary innovation, allowing customers to embark on a sensory journey that celebrates Peru’s diverse terroir. In addition to Central, Martinez’s culinary empire includes Mil, a pioneering food research centre and restaurant with panoramic views of the archaeological site Moray. Martinez’s philosophy revolves around experiencing the essence of Peruvian cuisine in its purest form, solidifying his place as one of the world’s preeminent chefs. 

While making Lima your next culinary destination would be ideal, here are a few Peruvian restaurants in the UK that will let you try Peru’s best dishes:

Lima – Fitzrovia (Virgilio Martinez) 

Lima Floral – Covent Garden (Virgilio Martinez) 

Chicama – Chelsea 

Pachamama – Marylebone 

COYA – Mayfair 

Señor Ceviche – Soho 

Tierra Peru – Islington

Image credit: Silvia Trigo via Pexels

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