Peruvian cooks and entrepreneurs have decided to ignore luxury and extravagance in order to concentrate on a more honest form of cooking and research based on what is sustainable, on respect for producers and farmers, on traceability, and on a balanced diet.
Matias Cilloniz goes once a week to buy produce from market gardens in Huampani. He chooses carefully from what is available and from products that are in season. He complements his choices with special orders for cheese, ham and artisanal bread. In Mó Café + Bistró, what predominates are vegetables and a little of what the season has to offer. Karissa Becerra created La Revolución as a concept aiming to teach youth about the importance of what they eat by bringing them into contact with the ingredients. She also runs cooking workshops and private dinners for adults, but always with the same emphasis: good food, knowledge, and understanding of what we eat. Virgilio Martinez has decided to move Mater Iniciativa to Cusco. His trips around Peru with his team help him to research traditional local ingredients that have been in use since ancient times. The results of his research then appears in his tasting menus that are continually under development.
Cilloniz, Becerra, and Martinez have something in common: they work in harmony with their environment, and this is tasty, responsible and healthy. Like them, several Peruvian cooks and entrepreneurs have decided to ignore luxury and extravagance in order to concentrate on a more honest form of cooking and research based on what is sustainable, on respect for producers and farmers, on traceability, and on a balanced diet. Everything can be used; indeed everything must be used.
This attitude is a trend which we hope will be more than just another fad and will become the norm for new generations of cooks. An understanding that if we do not work with the environment and accept the farmer and producer as protagonists of the gastronomic supply chain, then all is in vain. In recent years chefs have been fêted as much as rock stars, and that is not sustainable. Cooks are messengers, through which the earth speaks to us, as do the farmers, custodians of ancestral techniques who know how to work it. They transform the produce with their hands on its way to our dining tables.
And in Peru, this process is not short. It starts with organic and farmers markets which are full of artisanal and home-made products. On weekends people from all over Lima go out looking for healthy and
intelligent options. They can be found in Miraflores, La Molina, Barranco, and Surquillo. There are also many restaurants that, while not being necessarily vegan or vegetarian, provide dishes that meet the requirements of good eating. Barra Verde, inside a store called Morphology that also includes a butterfly nursery, gets produce from its own market garden in Pachacamac; and IK, a fine dining establishment that has won international awards, works directly with market gardens on the outskirts of the city and its taster menu contains only products in their purest form.
Pan de la Chola has become a classic “breakfast bar.” Its extracts, bread made fresh daily, sandwiches made from the best produce and good coffee make it one of the best of this new trend. Deneumostier Alquimia Culinaria owned by chef Brisa Denemoustier also offers a complete conscience cuisine experience involving adults and children, and interspersed with ceramic classes, excursions, and learning; there are also private lessons, dinners, and lunches that come under the umbrella title of wellness and a return to our roots. And that is what this is all about, going back
to and accepting what we have. Getting rid of the artificial and embracing the real things that keep us well fed, that taste good and that we can recognize.
Find out more about Ultimate Journeys Peru by visiting their website, where you can read from a trove of articles about the culture and history of Peru.
Editor’s note: This article previously appeared on Ultimate Journeys Peru, and you can read it here.
Cover photo: PXHere