Virgilio Martínez and Pía León
What makes it special: Chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León’s flagship restaurant is a shrine to everything that is 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 much 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 20m below sea level to 4,100 metres above it, in 17+ courses.
Central family: The husband and wife team got married four days after the awards ceremony for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013, where 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, where Malena Martínez will run their Mater Iniciativa research project from a larger base. León opened her first solo restaurant, named Kjolle, in 2018 in the same spot. Earlier in 2018, the team opened Mil restaurant in Cusco and they now have their sights set on a project in the Amazon in late 2019. Watch this space.