"There is a sort of culinary revolution taking place right now in Peru. If you ask young people what they want to be, a footballer, a model, a movie star?, they say: 'a chef'." Ferran Adria
Gaston Acurio - the ambassador of Peruvian cuisine, the king of the ceviche, the culinary curator of a nation. The award winning chef from Lima is one of those busy personalities who spends his time between kitchens and flying the world proudly promoting his nation's cuisine.
We talked about the new Latin wave of cuisine back in January and looked at how Latin American themed restaurants are slowly taking over. We've also looked at the rise of ceviche bars and how this raw fish dish, developed in Latin America, may one day rival sushi.
Although it's difficult to credit the rise of a countries cuisine to one chef, it's safe to say that the work and philosophies of Gaston Acurio have accelerated the focus on Peruvian food.
He understands more than most the importance of cuisine in promoting an area. How a cultural identity can be garnished from a dish like ceviche - how the Japanese with sushi and the italians with pasta have built a brand around their iconic foods - a brand that can accelerate a countries tourism, encourage young people to take up the profession of cooking and shine a gastronomic spotlight on a region, town or producer that may otherwise be overlooked.
He runs one of the world's best restaurants, Astrid and Gaston, has plans to open a new local initiative in Lima, aiming to serve high quality cuisine and support local Peruvian producers with an inbuilt farm and garden within the restaurant grounds. Gaston is a true inspiration in the world dining scene and a chef with a goal - a goal that through lots of hard work he's steadily achieving.
We sat down with Gaston recently to talk about his work, what role he believes food plays in promoting a nation's identity and we also managed to pick up a few cooking tips from the man himself.