What makes it special: After three years topping the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list with her husband and co-owner Virgilio Martínez at Central, Pía León decided to branch out with her own restaurant. Kjolle (pronounced KOY-ay) comes from the name of a flowering Peruvian tree that grows at extreme altitudes. Debuting on the list at No.21, Kjolle is the winner of the Highest New Entry Award 2019.
On the menu: Like the bright orange flower that gives the restaurant its name, Kjolle’s dishes are extremely colourful and offer a taste of ingredients from all over Peru. A nine-course tasting works through sea bass with razor clams, a selection of tubers including yucca, olluco and potato, and cured duck with squid, onion and kañiwa, a grain similar to quinoa. There is also a vegetarian degustation and an à la carte menu.
Chef CV: León worked at Gastón Acurio’s flagship Astrid y Gastón and the Ritz Hotel in New York, before joining Central when she was just 21. She worked her way up to head chef and has now been at the Lima flagship for over a decade. In 2018 she was voted Latin America’s Best Female Chef, and the same year she opened Kjolle. She still oversees Central with Martínez, and was fundamental in leading the restaurant to highs of No.1 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants and No.4 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
The vibe: Kjolle is located on the same restaurant complex as Central, the Mater Iniciativa research lab and cocktail bar Mayo in trendy Barranco. An open-plan dining room offers full view of León and her team in the kitchen, with all furnishings made from 100% Peruvian materials. Even the dishware is made from cedar and capirona wood sourced from the Amazon rainforest.