Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez’s Central restaurant in Lima was named the top eatery in Latin America, beating out top chefs like Gaston Acurio of Peru and Alex Atala of Brazil.
Martinez, 36, won the San Pellegrino Best Restaurant in Latin America award for his “unique take on Peruvian cuisine,” whose “forward-thinking nature drives a true culinary excellence.”
Martinez studied cooking and worked in kitchens around the world, including London, Bogota, New York and Madrid. He opened Central in Lima in 2009.
“Martinez’s unique take on Peruvian food includes using cushuro, an edible cyanobacteria harvested in Andean wetlands, or frozen potato, an ancient conservation method that brings out an unexpected flavour from the most famous Peruvian crop, to create elegant but down-to-earth dishes that leave a lasting memory,” the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants said on its website.
In addition to Central, Martinez also has a Peruvian restaurant called Lima in London. Lima was the first Peruvian restaurant to earn a Michelin star.
In second place on the list of top restaurants in Latin America was Astrid y Gaston, the Peruvian institution that was started by celebrity chef Gaston Acurio and his German wife Astid Gutsche in 1994.
In the past, Astrid y Gaston has often been cited as the top restaurant in Latin America, and one of the best in the world. It won the Latin America’s 50 Best award in 2013. It is credited with starting a culinary movement in Peru that has seen chefs replace European recipes with Peruvian ones.
Acurio has stepped back from managing the flagship restaurant, and the head chef is now Diego Muñoz.
“He translates Acurio’s dreams into exciting tasting menus telling fascinating stories, such as an Italian immigrant discovering his new country, or an allegorical journey through Peruvian landscapes and history,” Latin America’s 50 Best said of Muñoz’s work at Astrid y Gaston.
In third place on the San Pellegrino list is Brazilian chef Alex Atala’s D.O.M, a “ground-breaking restaurant” that brought “Amazonian cuisine to the attention of the world.”
Other Peruvian restaurants to make the list were Maido, by Mitsuharu Tsumura at number 7, Malabar (11), La Mar also owned by the Acurio group (15), Fiesta (20), Rafael (27), and La Picanteria (31).
The complete list is here.