Updated 04:45 PM EDT, Thu, Oct 22, 2020

Food Wizard Virgilio Martinez Talks New Resto, Plating, Peruvian Cuisine

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Peruvian food guru Virgilio Martinez is just 38 years old, but his unique style of preparing local meals has already gained the attention and respect of the culinary industry. The skateboarding enthusiast and self-professed ceviche lover went from being a food nomad to one of South America's highly-acclaimed chefs.

His flagship restaurant in Lima, Central Restaurante, earned the last spot in "The World's 50 Best Restaurants of 2013" by London-based magazine Restaurant. Three years later, it jumped to number four on the list, while being hailed as the number one restaurant in Latin America.

News got out this week that after seven years of serving indigenous and modern dishes to the folks at Lima, Central will be moving to Cusco, a landlocked city in the south-eastern part of Peru. Martinez recently sat down with TheArtOfPlating to talk about his new establishment and his thoughts on Peruvian cuisine.

Martinez said his decision to move Central was so that customers can have the complete dining experience in Cusco. He wants patrons to see how and where their food was harvested.

"We want the customers to have the whole experience on the way to the restaurant - to see the oca producers, where we get the corn, the cacao, and the coffee," Martinez explained. "It's the whole idea of cooking from scratch."

To ensure that crops grow fresh, plump and as organic as possible, Martinez has employed the services of leading anthropologists, biologists and geographers. These advisers help him and his kitchen staff to better understand how the environment and other communities affect food production, per TheLatinKitchen.

With regards to plating, Martinez wants to represent as many parts of Peru as possible. He and his team are constantly touring different regions of the country to discover native meals and ingredients that can be turned into gourmet dishes.

"We are rediscovering," he said. "These products have been there in the Andes and the Amazon. That's why we need to have some time to go and explore, get the knowledge, and bring it to the kitchen."

Martinez's attitude towards food merely reflects the identity of Peruvian cuisine. He said the country's line-up of dishes is unique, since it is a fusion of flavors from around the globe. Recipes dating back from the Inca civilization have been passed down from generation to generation while immigrants from Spain, Italy, Asia and Africa have all contributed to Peru's dynamic taste.

Martinez released "Lima: The Cookbook" last October to help people make simple Peruvian dishes. Would-be buyers shouldn't worry about plucking fruit from the Amazon, since Martinez said the ingredients can be found everywhere in the world. Interestingly enough, the cookbook costs $20 on Amazon.

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