Virgilio Martínez, the best cuisine in the world

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Investigate like an expeditionary, defend the land and its fruits like a soldier and create like a painter. A genius that astonishes the world. In Mérida, Mexico, Central was named the best restaurant in Latin America and has now just confirmed its success as the best in the world in the latest edition of The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants. Its cuisine, a tribute to its environment, brings us closer to the life of the communities, to the garden and its temporality, it is respect for the cultures of Peru and the regions of South America, and it is an explosion of flavor and creativity.

Brief history: In 2008, Virgilio Martínez opened Central in Lima with the vision of creating an excellent culinary experience based on Peruvian ingredients and culinary techniques. Martínez and his partner Pía León share a deep passion for Peruvian ingredients, Virgilio's sister, Malena, joined the cause to lead Mater Initiative, the restaurant's research arm. The team travels around Peru and the world looking for new proposals for their dishes.

Each dish speaks of its origin as a journey “through the sea, the coast, through the Andes, through the Amazon, also saying that we are between Andean forests and tropical forests and seas and mountain ranges, that is, we are in Latin America,” says Virgilio. 5 years ago, with success, in 2018, Martínez and León moved Central to a spacious building with a huge garden and a research center, a palace of flavors and hospitality.

It started at the bottom of the list, in 2013 it was in 50th place on the list. Ten years later, it becomes the first South American restaurant to win the title of The World's Best Restaurant. Virgilio and his cuisine have great ties with Mexico and his cuisine has visited us several times with his proposals and his magic, recently he was celebrating the anniversary of the Quintonil restaurant, where he prepared loche squash puree, shrimp chupe, crab with seaweed, sea floor with spirulina and sargassum, were some of his proposals that culminated with a great chocolate dessert based on cocoa, copoazú and macambo harmonized with Tequila.

During the presentation in Mérida of the recognition to Virgilio as the best chef in America, Gentleman spoke with him in his meetings with the press and revealed the magic of Lima in gastronomy: “Lima has had many years of providing interesting cuisine, we are in a privileged, fantastic place, producers, ancestral rites, and a gastronomic circuit has already been generated.” And he highlighted, “the union of Lima chefs has been key, we work with a strategy to benefit from successes and knowledge.” And he stressed, “Now there is a Lima that has to bring innovation. The Central concept has been exported to Japan and Russia, the idea is to replicate the method, create places to display products, nature, and make clear our approach to the environment for good cuisine. Very carefully, we have always wanted to make it possible for the method to be exported, with creativity and impactful executions,” he says enthusiastically.

When talking about what comes after these successes, he declares, “the future is always a surprise, it is consistency, we are never perfect, we have to improve, refine community development projects, with seeds, design, science and other arts. “We want to cross borders, we talk about ingredients, not countries.” He sentences and affirms, “gastronomy is a platform to make many things and much knowledge visible.” He proudly remembers how Central has been transformed, “in these years everything has happened, we have changed, we have designed a restaurant with everything we need, with a language, and something to tell. We innovate every day, a permanent transformation, we are changing. And the research part has helped us change.”

Central has also worked on the La Casa de la Playa project in Mexico with the Xcaret group, and talks about its proximity to our country, “we consider that Mexico is a very close border, and it has strength, we like to come and cook in Mexico or on vacation. We are very similar in ingredients, methods, techniques, we feel very close to Mexicans with the quality of their cuisine, and our son always wants to come to Mexico on vacation,” he confesses. “It's not just about nourishing yourself with food. Also of knowledge, of art, of stories, of something beautiful." And he is satisfied with how his work has been able to change his environment, the ways of eating and the life of some communities, with which he does not always speak the same language. He understands success because “we have a great team and that supports us. We are united by happiness, joy, responsibility and feeling that what we do is important for Lima, for Peru, for Latin America and to make a better world,” he concludes.

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