Palmiro Ocampo from Peru: an aware youth

In Milan, we admired a young chef from Lima, the forerunner of a cuisine careful to avoid waste and to global issues

Palmiro Ocampo, 30, chef at 1087 Bistro in Lima,

Palmiro Ocampo, 30, chef at 1087 Bistro in Lima, on the stage of Identità Milano (photo by Brambilla/Serrani)

A clean face, dark eyes and an assertive walk. He got on the stage of Identità Milano with the lively simplicity of a 30-year-old. Behind his youth, there’s the pride assertiveness of a Peruvian cocinero who arrived in Italy for a specific reason: to tell the story of the cooking in his country. Indeed, as Peruvian cuisine is not only a current trend. It’s most of all based on social awareness, recuperating scraps, creativity and masterful technique. And Palmiro Ocampo is one of its best representatives.

After learning the ropes at Cordon Bleu in Lima, «he was already a cook at 16», he worked in many restaurants around the world: NomaCeller de Can RocaEvo and Mugaritz. He’s also a member of the Académie Culinaire de France, the founder of Ccori Ccori, an organisation that fights to promote cooking with scraps and he’s the director of Incubation, a research organisation that investigates food from an academic, scientific and gastronomic point of view. As if this wasn’t enough, Palmiro teaches at Università San Ignacio de Loyola, he’s is the director of festival Apega and leads the Generación con Causa, a warlike collective of Peruvian chefs with a proper manifesto.

Wild strawberries with cypress wood

Wild strawberries with cypress wood

«Being one of the young representatives of Peruvian cuisine is a big responsibility – he said – I believe that people who have the privilege of an audience have the responsibility of giving the right message to the world, of being an example». As for Palmiro, his greatest examples are his parents. «They taught me first of all to make others feel good, to be in harmony with what surrounds me and to dream of changing the world, if necessary. They’ve been my teachers long before any other teacher I may have met in my early career».

With all that love in his heart, Palmiro continued to follow his dream: having a restaurant of his own. In the district of San Isidro, in Lima, he opened his innovative 1087 Bistro. A place with few tables and a large horseshoe shaped counter around the kitchen. «My restaurant is an intimate place for complicity, where we serve contemporary and aware Peruvian cuisine, respectful of the environment – explains Palmiro – a traditional cuisine with an eye on innovation».

In his restaurant, Ocampo is lucky enough to be able to express his creativity with all the necessary freedom. «My cuisine is excellent, because it uses raw materials as much as possible – he explains – and in this way I can give more flavours with the same ingredient». As in the case of the banana he used during the lesson at Identità Milano, both for the Ñoqui de Maduro, and for the Tuétano de bellaco, a starter made with scraps from the previous dish. «My cooking is good for you because it’s communication. I believe cooking is the best way to interact with all that surrounds you».

Ocampo with the moderator of his speech, food writer Sara Porro

Ocampo with the moderator of his speech, food writer Sara Porro

Palmiro presents a contemporary cuisine that has just one mission, he says, «my cooking pays attention to the environment and doesn’t waste food». Because what he wants to do is respect products and use them as much as possible. Good raw materials, often unknown in Italy, but which are gradually becoming more and more popular. «My dream would be to see Peruvian products in markets all around the world, so as to share them with everyone».

Excellent ingredients for a cuisine, the Peruvian one, which is taking a completely new direction. «In Peru there’s a cuisine with a strong identity, based on the heritage given by our ancestors, which privileges biodiversity and the different cultures – says Ocampo - but which follows global trends and is capable of adapting to change».

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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