calle Cantuarias, 175
«We live in a country with many limits and defects. But in the hands of this man, our kitchen becomes one of the richest in the world. Nobody has done so much for Peru as Gastón Acurio». The introduction to this revolutionary chef, born in 1967, is by the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa. For the past 20 years Acurio has tried to give a backbone to a country that appears disconnected in its multicoloured geo-gastronomical traditions: «We have the red colour of the rocoto chilly in the South, the yellow of the ají amarillo in Lima, the green of coriander, North of Cuzco», he explains.
This job of codification began in the Nineties, when the young man left the volumes of the criminal code at the University of Lima to stir saucepans in the Cordon Bleu school in Paris. He acquired orthodoxy, went back home with his German future spouse, Astrid, and gave birth do Astrid y Gastón, the first in a long series of restaurants of cocina peruana opened throughout the years. «At the beginning, we used to do the classical French cuisine, and we were always full, but what was the point?». There was none indeed. Hence the quick turn towards the autochthon: leveraging the infinite biodiversity of a country that can boast a wide view of the ocean from the very tall terraces of the Andes, collapsed, at the back, in damp Amazonian gorges. This is how Acurio illustrates the 25 ways in which you can prepare the anticuchos skewers, how he catalogues 4 thousand species of different potatoes, how he studies ceviche, the national symbol, to twist it into 7 ways, from the classical style, with halibut, mais and sweet potato, to the fusion shifts, well aware of the nikkei heritage, imposed by the great Japanese migratory wave of the early Twentieth Century.
Rhetoric soon amplifies from the antennas of many near and far countries gradually enchanted by his cuisine: Peru, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, United States. Restaurants called La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, Tanta, Panchita, Chicha, Madam Tusan. An empire nourished by dozens of collateral ventures: wall-on parts in tv, bestsellers in the bookshops (around twenty, the latest being "Five hundred years of fusion", 2008), the institution of the popular festival Mistura in Lima, the membership in the Basque Culinary Center, called by Ferran Adrià. With an eye always open on the problems of the country: he founded the Pachacutec School of cuisine to help the poor kids in Lima. All of this, with a constant thought: «With a ceviche in one hand and a Pisco Sour in the other, I can convince anyone».
born in Milan, 1973, freelance journalist, coordinator of Identità Golose World restaurant guidebook since 2007, he is a contributor for several magazines and teaches History of gastronomy and Culinary global trends into universities and institutes.
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