An export-quality Peruvian!
Talent, passion and innovation have made Peru Country Brand ambassador Virgilio Martínez an icon in the world of food. His exquisite creations convey the identity of an ancient country blessed with a rich culinary tradition that has enjoyed many years of global acclaim. This Peruvian chef knew how to appreciate and draw together these elements, and his insight won him the “Chefs’ Choice Award 2017,” the world’s highest honor for his profession.
This distinction has once again brought international attention to Peru, not just for its food, but for its social and cultural heritage as well, projecting an image of a country with ancestral riches to be cherished.
Also noteworthy are the two Peruvian restaurants that cracked the top 10 at the same 2017 awards. Martínez’ Central was ranked 5th, and Maido, run by fellow Peru Country Brand ambassador Mitsuharu Tsumura, climbed from 13th to 8th. Gastón Acurio’s restaurant Astrid & Gastón placed 33rd on the renowned worldwide list.
However, the success now enjoyed by this Peruvian chef did not arrive overnight. This story is one of a long period of sweat and sacrifice, which brought him to change social paradigms that are now a touchstone for many Peruvians who see him as an example of dedication. His journey has taken him to the kitchens of the most prestigious restaurants in the world, like the Four Seasons Hotel (Singapore), Lutèce (Manhattan, New York), Can Fabes (San Celoni, Spain) and Astrid & Gastón (Bogota, Colombia and Madrid, Spain). Years later, these experiences propelled him to launch his own project, Central, now the best restaurant in South America and the fifth best in the world.
A tale of skateboarding and ladles
At 11 years old, Martínez fell in love with skateboarding. His passion took him to the pro circuit. But the paltry support of sponsors forced him to choose something more stable, and he decided to study law. But life had something else in store for him; something worlds away from the realm of statutes and clauses. In an interview, he mentioned that “when you do something you don’t like, it turns out horrible.”
That’s when he decided to try his hand at cooking, a demanding profession he compares to skateboarding in that both jobs are unscripted. The chef likes to learn the origin of products and talk with the producers themselves. In doing so, he breaks the formal mold of a chef in the world of haute cuisine.
Martínez studied at the famous eatery Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and London. His culinary rise was marked by times of struggle, which have helped sharpen his talent as a chef.
In 2008, he opened Central in the Miraflores district of Lima. Four years later, his restaurant named Lima opened its doors in the Fitzrovia district of London. He was also featured on the third season of “Chef’s Table” on Netflix, the online site with approximately 100 million subscribers.
Additionally, he published a book entitled “Central”, which unveils the culinary secrets of his first restaurant. He is currently promoting the nation’s culinary virtues, with the aim of giving Peruvian food a place at the table of world cuisine. He has even given a lecture on the innovative techniques of Peruvian gastronomy at Harvard, another unmistakable step towards earning our food the reputation as some of the best on the planet.