Virgilio Martinez working his magic in the Central kitchen in Lima, Peru
Photo from Central
With the Mistura food festival currently under way, Peru needs no added reason to celebrate its culinary excellence. There is however more grounds to rejoice! Earlier this month, San Pellegrino awarded Central, an avant-garde Lima restaurant, the first prize for Best Restaurant in Latin America. The prize was bestowed as part of the second annual edition of San Pellegrino’s list of 50 Best Latin American Restaurants.
Peru as a whole received excellent rankings on the list, proudly claiming 3 of the top 10 spots: 1st, 2nd and 7th place. These awards all went to Lima-based restaurants: Central, Astrid y Gastón, and Maido. Here is a list of Peru’s total winnings:
No. 1 – Central Restaurant
No. 2 – Astrid y Gastón
No. 7 – Maido
No. 11 – Malabar
No. 15 – La Mar
No. 20 – Fiesta
No. 27 – Rafael
No. 31 La Picantería
Central’s avant-garde cuisine
The talented owners and chefs of Central, Virgilio Martinez and Pia Leon, were awarded first place for their unique use of Peruvian products and deconstructed approach on presenting traditional ingredients. The cooks specialize in elevating delicious local cuisine.
“We need to share this with the entire Latin American family,” Martinez told the food blog, The Daily Meal.
The husband and wife team is happy to see the positive trend. Last year Central ranked 4th on the San Pellegrino list, and they have managed to top themselves this year. On the list of San Pellegrino’s 50 Best Restaurants in the World that also came out earlier this year, Central ranked 15th.
Virgilio Martinez’s life changed when he explored the city of Cusco and its surrounding areas. It was here, he tells San Pellegrino, that he discovered the stunning biodiversity of Peru and developed a love for native ingredients. Having been trained in professional kitchens throughout the globe, from London to Bogota, to New York and Madrid, he finally decided to open his own restaurant right here in Lima in 2009.
Virgilio Martinez carefully selects all the ingredients used in his mouth-watering dishes.
Photo from Central
Martinez has an elevated vision of Peruvian food and is not afraid to mix both traditional and non-traditional ingredients into his cooking. He uses products like cushuro, an edible cyanobacteria found in the Andean wetlands, and frozen potato, an ancient conservation method that boosts the flavor of the most popular of Peruvian crops.
The largest gathering of foodies in the world
You’re in luck! You can currently get your own taste of these top restaurants at Peru’s most famous culinary festival. Every September foodies from around the globe turn to Lima to focus their attention on Mistura: the biggest gathering of foodies and culinary geniuses in Latin America, and perhaps even the world. You will find a combination of open-air markets, parades, fairs, culinary schools, and more restaurant vendors than you can even try! Explore a vast selection of mouth-watering dishes prepared right in front of your eyes and enter gastronomic heaven.