Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Peru’s Culinary Ambassador



Gastón Acurio wants to change the way you eat. One of Latin America’s most well-known celebrity chefs, the Peruvian is well on his way to putting his country’s cuisine on plates across the world.

Acurio, 41, has opened more than a dozen upscale eateries in nine countries throughout the hemisphere, including a recently opened cevicheria in San Francisco and a New York outpost scheduled to open next winter. “In Peru, everybody is a cook—we are so proud of our food,” he explains. “Our mission now is to take this cultural patrimony—our cuisine—and promote it throughout the world.” The mission is complemented by his weekly program on Peru’s Plus TV, Aventura Culinaria, which traces the stories behind different recipes and traditions.

Acurio, who abandoned his law studies in Madrid to enroll at the elite Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, hopes to make ceviche and anticuchos as commonplace as sushi and sashimi. At Cordon Bleu, he found himself part of a growing movement of chefs interested in Peruvian cooking, eschewing the strictly European cuisine served in Lima’s best restaurants. “Twenty years ago, the top restaurants in Lima were French; today they are all Peruvian,” Acurio recounts with pride.

Acurio, in fact, hopes to encourage a new generation of chefs who will make Peruvian food a global byword in gastronomy. In 2007, he created the Instituto de Cocina Pachacutec, a culinary school in one of Lima’s poorest districts, where talented young cooks study with the country’s best chefs over two years. Today, his school is one of more than 35 different cooking institutions in Lima—a city fast becoming a culinary hub. For Acurio, this is a transformation long overdue.

AQ Online Exclusive: Gastón Acurio’s Ceviche Recipe

Ingredients:

Sea bass filet                                               600 gr.

Red hot chili pepper finely chopped        12 gr.

Finely chopped cilantro                              8 gr.

Key lime juice                                               400 ml.

Sliced red onions                                        120 gr.

Lettuce                                                           4 leaves

Boiled sweet potato                                    240 gr.

Corn kernels                                                 160 gr.

Salt                                                                  12 gr.

Glutamate                                                      4 gr.

Decoration:

Red hot chili pepper in slices                   4 gr.

Sea weed                                                     20 gr.

Preparation:

1. Cut raw sea bass in cubes of 2 cm approximately

2. Rub a stainless steel bowl with red hot chili pepper, place sea bass filet in the bowl, season with salt, chopped red hot chili pepper without seeds and veins, finely chopped cilantro, squeeze key lime gently to avoid any bitter taste, add 4 ice cubes and sliced red onions, mix well.

3. Serve in a cold plate, garnish it with lettuce, sliced sweet potato of 1.5 cm thickness approximately and corn kernels

4. Decorate with sea weed and sliced red hot chili pepper

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Marczak is deputy director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council. He previously served as senior editor of Americas Quarterly and director of policy at Americas Society and Council of the Americas.

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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
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