Virgilio Martínez and Pía León
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 seen 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, tuber, chocolate 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. The couple run together, work together, travel together and even open more restaurants together, seen in the León-fronted Kjolle, which opened in 2018.
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. Also in 2018, the team opened Mil restaurant in Cusco and they now have their sights set on a project in the Amazon, likely to open in 2020.