World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018
Chef Gastón Acurio Q&A
We sat at the table with Chef Gastón Acuriom, winner of 2018 Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, for an exclusive Q&A. He opened up about his favorite restaurants, what he eats at home and his vision for the culinary world’s future.
Favorite hidden gem spot in Peru?
1.- Chifa Peruvian Chinese Cantonese style.
Restaurant Haita. A Chinese woman makes a delicious home cooked meal with local ingredients. It’s located in the middle of a family neighborhood called San Borja. She makes the best sui kao dumpling soup ever.
2.- Peruvian regional cuisine.
The restaurant is called La Paisana. Their cuisine comes from Northern Peru. The restaurant is located in the middle of a family area called Magdalena. I order Conchas Negras cebiche, fish sudado stew, mashed bananas with dried meat called seco de chabelo. Delicious.
3- Nikkei cuisine.
In Surquillo district, restaurant Al Toke Pez. Delicious seafood.
When you dine out, what are you paying attention to?
Kindness of the staff. Good simple ingredients and recipes done with care and love.
Most underrated ingredient?
Oca. It’s a tuber [a root vegetable] from the Andes. It’s absolutely delicious and still unknown for millions of Peruvians in coastal cities of Peru and the rest of the world. It has a sweet, deep flavor, beautiful, elegant.
What do you eat at home?
Home limeño cooking. The same dishes I ate at my mother’s home. Arroz con pollo, locro de zapallo, frijoles con seco, aji de gallina. All Peruvian home cooking.
Favorite kitchen gadget or tool?
Wood spoon. For slow cooking it’s like the grandmother of the tools.
What’s the best advice you’ve even gotten?
Nothing can be unsolved. You can fix it tomorrow.
What’s your favorite dish from childhood?
Picante de machas. It’s an aji Amarillo [South American hot chili pepper] and pink clams stew that my grandmother used to make every Tuesday. With a little seaweed and potatoes, the juice was mixed with white rice. It was amazing. But one day, pink clams disappeared. Overfished. A terrible end of a beautiful memory.
What’s the next big thing in food?
Regional cuisines form all over the world being shared. The world is discovering with joy all of the amazing food culture still hidden and undiscovered.
Which do you prefer… fine dining or street food?
Street food by far
Sweet or savory?
Brunch or dinner?
Wine or cocktails?
Big party or intimate gathering?
If you had a last meal, what would it be?
Papas con aji. Boiled potatoes with Peruvian chilis cream salsa. That is my life.
Want to experience one of Chef Gastón’s dishes? Check out one of his restaurants in his hometown Lima, and make sure to use your Diners Club® card.