Virgilio Martínez and Pía León
High altitude plants
Av. Pedro de Osma 301, Barranco, Lima
+51 1 2428515
What makes it special: Chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León’s flagship restaurant is a shrine to all things Peruvian, including many ingredients that are seldom served elsewhere. The husband-and-wife team have been travelling the length and breadth of the country for several years to source interesting and unique produce from land, sea and mountains.
On the menu: Martínez and León like to play with the many varieties of corn, potato and more obscure products offered by Peru’s vastly biodiverse landscape. Classics include Land of Corn and Extreme Stems, with newer dishes such as Waters of Nanay featuring piranha fish served in an entire, sharp-tooth-filled piranha head. The menu explores every altitude, from 20 metres below sea level to 4,100 metres above it, in 17+ courses.
Central family: Martínez and León were married four days after the awards ceremony for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013, when they celebrated Central’s first appearance on the list. León runs the kitchen day-to-day while Martínez still oversees the menu. The couple run together, work together and travel together, often in search of new ingredients with Martínez’s sister, Malena.
Other ventures: Central has left its original location in Lima’s Miraflores district for a new home in the arty Barranco neighbourhood, which also houses Malena Martínez’s Mater Iniciativa research project and a cocktail bar called Mayo. León opened her first solo restaurant, Kjolle, in July 2018 in the same spot, and only a couple of months later she was voted as the elit® Vodka Latin America’s Best Female Chef 2018. Earlier in 2018, the team opened Mil restaurant in Cuzco and they now have their sights set on a project in the Amazon next year.
Images: Gustavo Vivanco