|Peruvian chef Acurio shares home flavors with world
He has been called the unofficial ambassador of Peruvian cuisine, but chef Gaston Acurio prefers to share that title with his fellow countrymen.
“For us as Peruvians, we feel that we represent the culture all over the world,'' he said. “For us, it's the opportunity to promote our food, our culture, our image.''
Modesty aside, Acurio represents Peruvian cuisine. He has some 40 restaurants across the world, from Madrid to Miami, and his flagship restaurant, Astrid&Gaston, was ranked No 14 on this year's World's 50 Best Restaurants. And now his latest spot, La Mar at the Mandarin Oriental in Miami, is scheduled to launch in February, AP’s Suzette Laboy writes.
“We feel like we have the opportunity to share with the world our lovely food that we've been hiding for a long time,'' he said in an interview in the US state of Florida Wednesday.
Hiding, indeed. Peruvian cuisine was named the top ethnic cuisine for 2014 among chefs surveyed by the US National Restaurant Association. Yet even Acurio acknowledges that Peruvian food has yet to take off in the U.S.
“You know how many years it took Italian food to become global? One-hundred years. Japanese food? Forty years. Peruvian food, maybe five more years,'' the chef said with a laugh.
It may take a popular street food in Peru to get more Americans to chow down on the flavorful and often spicy cuisine. Ceviche, or fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices, is one of the most popular dishes in the country _ and abroad. When most Americans think of Peruvian food they think of ceviche, Acurio said. And then there is also the popular pisco sour, a delicious sweet and citrusy cocktail with a refreshing hint of lime.
For Acurio, fostering the next generation of Peruvian chefs is just as important as opening a new restaurant in the US He is the primary supporter of the Pachacutec School of Cuisine located in one of the poorest areas in Lima.