The garden that greets guests arriving at Central changed in 2020 – it became a microcosm of Peru’s rich diversity of ingredients. Quinoa and cress grow abound, while wild foliage and aromatic herbs hide a solar dehydrator near a large stone grill used to cook Amazonian paiche fish and native potatoes. This guest journey punctuated by an introduction to Peru’s biodiversity reveals a few hints at a restaurant that has struck the perfect balance between minimalism and hospitality.
Chef Virgilio Martínez seems to be everywhere at the same time, slipping almost noiselessly through the dining room and making each diner feel attended to. The friendly and quiet atmosphere invites guests to enjoy themselves; to laugh and to engage. It allows for an immersive experience with a tasting menu that tells the story of the country’s biodiversity, exploring ecosystems with impeccable technique and playing with a neat aesthetic that also influences the table, kitchenware and cutlery.
Central’s decoration is austere, but the colours and textures evoke warmth. Stone, wood, natural elements, an open kitchen and wall-to-wall glass partitions promote the serenity, but play also-ran to the main protagonist: the food. Meanwhile, the movements of a front-of-house team who dance around each table reveal themselves with subtlety, giving concise information about each dish and drink.
Central is irreverent, it recovers stories, portrays ingredients honestly and is based on extensive and creative research. Most of all, it is tasty and the relaxed style of hospitality allows flavour to speak for itself. It distances itself from trends and immerses the diner in a unique cosmovision of the many cultures that populate Peru.
Behind the wide windows that set the limits of the dining room, you can discover the small worlds that inform the menu: displays of distillates, chocolates made on site, crockery, earthenware, ceramics and supplies. The experience is orchestrated with wise courtesy by the director of hospitality, Valentino Galán, complimented by the attention of detail of sommelier Diego Vásquez. All these factors combine to make Central a worthy winner of the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award 2020.
Read the interview with chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León on their hospitality philosophy and watch the video:
Discover more about the previous award winners