Gaston Acurio is not only Peru’s most famous chef, but also its most famous restauranteur. In this interview, he talks about all of the new restaurants he will opening in Lima, in the rest of Peru and overseas. He also discloses his plans for two new brands set to open by 2014.
What is your growth plan?
The directorate has budgeted and planned to open five new Melate Chocolate boutiques and 35 new restaurants in Peru and abroad during 2013 and 2014. That means that the goal is to double our presence, as we currently have 40 locales spread across nine brands.
Which brands will grow the most?
Tanta is the leader. With that, we will open new locations at Larcomar, MegaPlaza, La Rambla and the future Real Plaza Salaverry in Jesús María, and in the patio of the BBVA Continental building, we will open a Super Tanta. Meanwhile, in the provinces, we will arrive to Trujillo, Cusco, Chiclayo, Arequipa and Piura. The last three of those cities will also get Los Bachiche. La Rambla and Real Plaza Salaverry will also get Papacho’s, as will Arequipa and Chiclayo. We are also negotiating Papacho’s entry to Jockey Plaza. Finally, we are already in the process of planning the arrival of Panchita to Surco.
So, there won’t be the new brand, Super Chicha, in MegaPlaza…
No, a study undertaken by Arellano Marketing found that the people there would prefer Tanta, so that’s what will we do; they’ve already given us the location. Super Chicha is not in the short-term agenda; we had the chance to put it in Larcomar, but it’s an issue that still has not been cleared up.
Overseas, what countries will you be arriving to, and what brands will be crossing the border for the first time?
Panchita, Los Bachiche and Papacho’s are the three brands that will be going international. The first is going to Chile, the second will have two locales in Quito and Guayaquil, and Papacho’s will also be in Guayaquil. Tanta will open up in Chicago in March, Chile will have two more, and it will also open in Brazil, and in Guayaquil and Quito. La Mar will arrive to Miami and San Diego. Meanwhile, Madam Tusan will open in Colombia; the restaurant is already under construction.
Will you develop new ideas and brands?
We are going to launch a couple of new ideas. The first will be a grill restaurant, which will also have dishes like chancho al palo, a la caja china, et cetera. The first location will open in 2013 in the Centro Empresarial (San Isidro), across from the Swissotel. The dream of London will become a reality in 2014. We will open a kind of Peruvian tavern, that will be like a trip through all of the different cuisines of Peru, which will have Chifa, Nikkei and Criollo dishes. Neither name has been decided yet.
How much will you invest in your new restaurants?
A restaurant doesn’t cost less than $800,000.
So, with some back of the envelope math, you will be investing at least $32 million?
Yes, more or less. This investment will be done in a joint manner, between Acurio Restaurantes and the different partners in Peru and foreign investors.
You have generated a boom for Peruvian food…
We are starting a new stage in the recovery of our pride, in feeling that it is possible to develop a cuisine that represents Peru. Lima competes with the world to be considered one of the world’s gastronomic capital, like Paris is. It’s even showing a universal face, where you can find a mix of local, popular and international offerings, which makes it even more attractive. To this, we must also add the fact that we are the number one in Latin America for the production of cookbooks, and the city with the most cooking schools.
So, are we on the way to the globalization of our cuisine?
The universalization of Peruvian flavors is a story that has just begun, unlike Italian cuisine, which has 100 years out in the world. The door is open for the different actors to provide creative and distinct offerings all over the world. The best is yet to come.
Is the social role also important?
Yes, we have an alliance with Telefónica, “Juntos para transformar,” and we are part of the state’s Qali Warmi project. We are also going to promote the filming of documentaries to supporting the local farming communities. We will also help entrepreneurs who have promising ideas.