2021 turned out to be quite a year for the Peruvian chef known for showcasing his country’s extraordinary cooking at Lima’s Central and high-in-the-Andes Mil. In the summer, his wife and business partner Pía León was named Best Female Chef in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and they are about to open two further-flung outposts that share Central’s exploratory philosophy.
In Moscow, Olluco is set to uncover Russia’s biodiversity – ‘it will revitalise the value of produce such as beetroot, which we’ll use like purple corn in Peru, applying its powerful colour to other ingredients,’ says Martínez. The second, in Tokyo, is going to take a similar approach with the Japanese terroir. Both are rooted in the chef’s South American experiences, which he has traced for The Latin American Cookbook. ‘For our research we spent several years travelling around. It’s important to look beyond Peru and connect with the continent.’ Here are his standout restaurants in Latin America.
Gustu La Paz, Bolivia
‘I love this spot for its fine-dining nuances that teach you about the country. The first head chef, who was Danish, included many Nordic details but today the talented Marsia Taha helms the kitchen; Bolivians working exclusively with Bolivian ingredients denotes a strong change. The eight-course menu is brave and adventurous, featuring Amazon caiman, dried surubí river fish and llullucha (algae) ice cream.’ gustu.bo
La Nueva Palomino Arequipa, Peru
‘Arequipa is home to hundreds of picanterías (casual restaurants) where señoras stir up fantastic grassroots cooking, taking influences from the Andes, the coast and the colonial period. Mónica Huerta Alpaca is a real genius and tremendous host who uses techniques passed down through her family. I order rocoto relleno, chilli peppers stuffed with minced meat and spices.’ facebook.com/LaNuevaPalomino