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Eladio Espinoza, the Ancashino chef who shone before the Peruvian ‘gastronomic boom’

He tells us that he is 96 years old and briefly tells us that he is on medical leave at home. The man whose great legacy is having led one of the most classic restaurants in our gastronomic Lima for more than five decades is called Eladio Espinoza Espinoza. An entrepreneurial Ancashino, he took over the management of a restaurant called San Isidro in the early 1970s, an emblematic place in local culinary history, which for years was considered the “kingdom of shrimp.” The older ones surely remember it, but it is likely that few young people (cooks and diners) have heard of it. That’s why this fair semblance goes.

Don Eladio used to say that in his land, San Pedro de Chaná, there was no authority that could register those born in those towns at 3,400 meters above sea level, in the province of Huari, Áncash. But the nonagenarian businessman officially celebrates one more year of life every May 8th.

He told this newspaper, around the year 2015, that his farmer parents, Catedro and Evarista, gave him full school instruction, and that he was so diligent in his studies that he won a scholarship, but he could not take advantage of it due to lack of resources to move nearby. of the University. At the age of 19, he migrated to Lima and here he studied accounting; he married and had six children.

good account

An advertisement published in El Comercio changed the fate of Don Eladio: an accountant was requested for the Atlantic café, in Pasaje Olaya. The young man worked there for 10 years as an administrator, and after leaving his position, an acquaintance proposed that he transfer a restaurant to him on the corner of Arenales and Dos de Mayo avenues. It was called San Isidro.

Don Eladio began selling cebiches until one day a client named Pfeiffer arrived, asked a captain for an appetizer, and ordered him to prepare a good plate of shrimp. Don Eladio had never heard that word; then he understood that the diner was referring to the exquisite shrimp.

The businessman recounts that the next day, armed with shrimp, he turned to the stove in search of the precise recipe, to satisfy the demanding diner. He baked, steamed, and grilled them, until he tried frying them in butter and they took on the tempting color. With the crustacean coral, he made a sauce in the pan: butter, white wine, whiskey and Worcestershire sauce. He drizzled it over the shrimp, and thus came the famous dish that became famous as “shrimp a la plancha”, although in reality they are sautéed in a pan.

In the mid-80s, long before the so-called gastronomic ‘boom’ -restaurants such as La Gloria or Astrid y Gastón (both from 1994) had not yet opened-, specialized critics praised that restaurant where presidents, ministers and politicians arrived attracted by the novelty culinary whose secret (don Eladio always said) is none other than having “first class merchandise”. “Poor the one who exaggerates with the shrimp –wrote the journalist Raúl Vargas, under the pseudonym Diego Cormoran in his column “Crítica de la sazón pura”– and adds to it, without need or concert, excessive cooking, feverish spices, prolonged frying” . Don Eladio knew how to give to the taste of those who knew the exquisite input well, marking a milestone in the culinary history of Peru.

In a brief telephone communication, Don Eladio tells us that when certain special customers let him know that they are going to enjoy dishes like his shrimp chupe or the lobster that he usually serves, he himself tries to go and receive them at the restaurant. His visits make him happy, and he, grateful, lavishes blessings on top of a prompt and happy return.

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Where to find it?

Over time, the San Isidro restaurant became Chez Eladio. A branch opened until 2014 in the financial center of the district, until it returned to occupy the original location. Today, Chez Eladio is open at Av. Arenales 228, San Isidro. And next door is his son, in Eladio Restaurante (Av. Arenales 240, San Isidro).

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Source: Elcomercio

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