From Lisbon to Vigo, heading to Barcelona, after stopping in Madrid. Then Geneva and Zurich, brief stop in Berlin and final destination Stockholm. How delicious our Peruvian cuisine travels! And how close our products of origin have become, which are now exported by sea and air, bringing the DNA of our gastronomy closer to nostalgic national chefs. Conquerors, some call them, because they migrated a long time ago to cities where little or nothing was known about Peru and its cuisine, and with their more traditional recipes, adapted to the local environment, they gained ground. Culinary ambassadors, they are considered other, because from their tables they spread our culture, share our customs, tempt with the taste of home and encourage you to visit the country that is the origin of so much flavor.
Some of these conquerors are already known. What Valeria Olivari: installed in Portugal, the cook took a trip with The Cholas and their alfajores stuffed with manjarblanco that taste like Peru But one that she began preparing far away from her country, in an atelier in Lisbon that for years has been the center of operations to create dinners and other intimate culinary experiences with a national accent. Further north, in Vigo, kitchen Juan Carlos Perret, in his restaurant Kero, which has already been founded for five years, managing to envelop the Galicians with the taste of a classic ceviche, but also with creative recipes that have some connection (a product, a technique) with Peru.
Omar malpartida it also made its way to the other side of the Atlantic. He arrived in Madrid in 2013 to lead Tiradito’s kitchen and from there he started walking: he injected a little Peruvian affection into the letters of Mercatbar and Vuelve Carolina, from chef Quique Dacosta in Valencia, as well as Astrolabius in Madrid, and created concepts such as Maymanta in Ibiza and Luma in the Spanish capital. Three hours from there, in Barcelona, is Nicky ramos, a young chef who was always clear that his would be to promote Peru. We met him a few years ago, when he had The Market Peru, and now we know that celebrates the Japanese and Chinese influence (Nikkei and Chifa) at its Leche de Tigre restaurant, in addition to (pandemic obliges) to join the Peruvian-style crispy chicken delivery options with his Gallito Canalla venture.
Two hundred years after our independence was proclaimed, Peru became a conquering country. And it was cooks like Valeria and cooks like Juan Carlos, Omar and Nicky who went out to gain ground so that their country is recognized as a gastronomic powerhouse in Latin America. Which is thanks, too, to many other chefs and gastronomic entrepreneurs whose stories will be part of the documentary series “Conquistadores”, which Movistar Play will premiere this Friday, September 10.
In addition to the aforementioned chefs, established in Portugal and Spain, each 30-minute chapter will show the stories of four other chefs based in cities in Switzerland, Germany and Sweden. We will meet, for example, Cecilia Zapata: Lima, daughter of Lambayecan parents, accountant by profession and cook by passion, mother and today grandmother, who emigrated 17 years ago to Geneva, where a large part of her family lives. “We had a country house in Pachacámac and there my father [Luis Zapata] He set up the Mini Camping Don Lucho restaurant in the mid-eighties. There I began to learn Creole cooking ”, he says from his home in Switzerland.
In honor of those years living in the green valley of Lima, Cecilia founded 15 years ago Pachacámac, a restaurant where you revisit traditional recipes using local products. “In my letter I have olluquitos, for example, which I accompany with fish from Lake Lemán; I know the fishermen and we are lucky to have seasonal fresh ingredients ”, this chef tells us, who also supplies imported products from Peru (her sister Patricia was a pioneer in introducing pisco in Switzerland, she tells us), which in only four days arrive by plane: cushuro, yuyo, chincho, charapita peppers, limo, panca and mirasol; corn and even chulpe canchita.
Cecilia Zapata says that she had two offices in Pachacámac, but for health reasons she chose to close one and stay with the main premises, which occupies a property that is the city’s heritage. He has been a member of the Chefs Goutatoo Geneve association for seven years, made up of passionate chefs who do collaborative work. “I have been with them for seven years, and I am the only Peruvian and the only woman,” she highlights. She adds that in times of pandemic they concentrated on supporting each other by doing delivery service: she, of course, encouraged them to prepare Nikkei cuisine.
Ravine in switzerland
Just over three hours from Geneva, in Zurich, the phone answers us Christina Tobler Orbegoso. She was born in Switzerland, but her mother is from Trujillo, so trips to Peru became a custom since she was a child. The lucuma ice creams, the fresh papaya juice, the Inca Kola that she always carried back in her suitcase, are flavors that Christina always associated with her motherly roots. “But also giving so much importance to lunch and dinner as a family, not only for food but as a way of sharing and gathering,” he tells us.
With the awareness that youth gives and the pride of knowing that she is the heir to an important culinary legacy, Christina began to delve deeper into Peruvian gastronomy every time she came to Lima, until she decided to create a restaurant that would promote this cuisine in Switzerland that she loved so much. liked. “Growing up in Zurich, I never saw myself as a traditional Peruvian. So I had to find a new approach that would give me that authenticity. Mine is more urban, and that’s why I thought it should be a colorful place that dares to also include influences from all sides ”. The result was Barranco, a name he chose in honor of the neighborhood whose essence was captured by Entes, an artist friend of his, on three walls of this restaurant that opened in 2018.
“We try to focus on a small menu, with dishes to share and differentiated by regions of Peru. We focus on Peruvian inputs and explain them to diners, ”says the businesswoman who easily accesses fresh inputs that come from Peru, such as yellow pepper, copoazú, sacha cilantro, corn or some tubers, but also lets local products shine , like the Swiss salmon raised on organic farms that he uses in a tiradito.
Andrés Sardinia Rendón He is from Arequipa and lives in Berlin. He arrived as an engineer but soon the calculations and some occasional jobs made him assume his true vocation, associated with another science: culinary science.
He says that before traveling to Germany he did an internship at a picanteria in Cayma, that he liked cooking (he learned from his grandmother and his father) but studying gastronomy was not within his reach. So in Berlin, he finished studying environmental engineering while working in restaurants, first washing dishes and then cooking. “I decided to work as a bartender at events and that is how I learned more about customer service. I also worked in catering for fairs that PromPerú did in Europe. Until the decisive moment arrived: you do what you like or you continue as an engineer ”. Andrés presented his portfolio to provide catering service at the Peruvian embassy in Germany, and with that he started. He attended events at diplomatic headquarters and provided Peruvian catering services at the Fruit Logistica fair, between 2017 and February 2020, shortly before the pandemic.
Over time, Andrés looked for a place to set up his workshop, and he just found one that was necessary to set up a restaurant. In April 2019 it opened Rocoto: “We offer traditional Peruvian food but with signature touches. For example, a risotto in yellow chili cream with lomo saltado, which is what the German likes (…) The people here like to try new things, they are more open and cosmopolitan ”. Of course, this 34-year-old chef who commands a team of 10 people also prepares shrimp chupe in winter, bunting and other dishes from his land, although he admits that the stuffed hot pepper is not fixed on his menu. “It is difficult to get fresh hot peppers. When a supplier tells me that he is going to bring, I put it, “he says, and thanks the importers of Peruvian products, because without them they would not be able to spread what our cuisine should be like.
The most Nordic Peruvian
Peruvian is also eaten in distant Scandinavia. And it is Czech Valentine who serves the table. Limeño, he spent many summers between the beach and the Piura countryside, the land of his parents and grandparents. “I have no cooking training, I did something completely different: I got a Fulbright scholarship after college and studied business administration; I returned to Peru, worked in a bank, traveled to Germany to do an MBA and work in investment banking in Belgium. After seven years I decide to leave all that, ”he tells us.
Passionate about northern flavors, the kitchen was his natural choice. Valentin used to cook for his friends, organize meetings and teach his guests the flavors of his country. Setting up a restaurant was not unreasonable, so he began to build his great project in Berlin, “a city that allows you to do tests.” But things of fate, it was a trip to Stockholm that made him change the headquarters of Czech, a restaurant that opened in 2017, a year after moving to the Swedish capital.
“The tables were made by me; I painted a mural that is inspired by my life. It is not a local Peruvian or Swedish. It is very straightforward and simple. I want people to feel at home, very relaxed “, details the chef who works a small menu that prioritizes the natural flavor of the ingredients, it does not abound in heat, spices or intense seasonings:” I am lucky to have traveled a lot and that gave me the tools to put together simple dishes, with genuine flavors and closer to Peru, but without that force of seasonings ”.
Living so far away Czech Valentine today recognizes the luck that Peruvians have for having what grows in our soils and enjoying different products all year round. “Here in Scandinavia the most determining factor is the weather: they have an overwhelming four-month winter and they have learned to preserve their food. So when you introduce them to the Peruvian flavors, which is not only the chili peppers that are the secret of our kitchen but also that detail of freshness, they don’t have the slightest idea of the flavor they will find in our dishes ”. And so, the surprise jumps in every bite. Fortunately, that botija olive and that tender corn arrive fresh on Checa’s table, and he presents them to wrap, seduce and bring happiness to thousands of kilometers of Peru. He, like many national chefs, conquers with our gastronomy.
“Pathfinders” It will arrive at Movistar Play next Friday, September 10.
The documentary series can also be seen through the Movistar Plus signal (channel 6 and 706 HD) on Saturdays at 4 pm It contemplates two seasons, according to the following programming:
First season: September 10
1 Nicky Ramos
2 Valeria Olivari
3 Czech Valentine
4 Christina Tobler
Second season: October 22
5 Omar Malpartida
6 Juan Carlos Perret
7 Cecilia Zapata
8 Andrés Sardinia