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Chefs go Local as Gastro-Tourism Slows

07 August, 2020
Epur restaurant - embracing locals

Photo courtesy of Rafael Tonon.

“We make the same food, always focused on indigenous Peruvian ingredients, but now more casual, with lower prices. The focus here is on the product, more than on the experience,” Martinez adds. Mayo Comedor, as they rebranded it, also has more space for tables, meeting the requirements for social distancing. 

With the new brand, they serve simple, familiar dishes such as crispy chicken with native potato, chaplas (Andean bread, with meat fish or vegetables), and carpaccio with Peruvian ginger.

“We want to serve daily specials, delicious foods. It is a restaurant for locals who come to Barranco”, he explains, in reference to the neighbourhood where their restaurants are located, all in the same building, Casa Tupac. 

Martinez says they have started opening earlier, at 11am, so people can also have brunch, drink coffee and stay for lunch. “Many people in the city never came to our restaurants. It is a chance to welcome them to our home so they can see our work up close.”

Tacos for all

It was this same idea that led chef Jorge Vallejo, from Quintonil (ranked #24 at in The World's 50 Best Restaurants list), in Mexico City, to invite some friends to his ‘Lunes de Tacos’ or ‘Taco Mondays’ events that take place in the restaurant during summer. 

Quintonil - tacos - chefs go local

Photo courtesy of Quintonil Restaurant.

Vallejo was thinking about how he could adopt a different dynamic in the restaurant for local guests. “Tacos were the first thing that came to my mind because they are very popular in Mexico,” he explains. “Of course, it is not the same as going to a taqueria, we want to offer something with the Quintonil trademark, that's why we opted for a four-hands tasting menu, with 6 tacos and dessert,” he says. 

The restaurant also offers a pairing to prove that tacos can have a more gastronomic take. “We have welcomed people who have never been to Quintonil before. It is an amazing opportunity to create a relationship with those who live in the city, allowing them to get to know the places foreigners come here for,” he adds.

A window on the street

Chef Vincent Farges, from Michelin-starred Epur, in Lisbon, also felt the need to relate to the city in a different way after the quarantine that maintained his business closed for almost four months. 

With far fewer tourists on the streets, he thought it might be interesting to open the restaurant earlier to offer glasses of wine, oysters, croquettes and torricados (a kind of Portuguese bruschetta) to Lisboners.

Epur image - chefs go local

Photo courtesy of Rafael Tonon.

“The idea of offering people snack food with a good wine had been in my mind for a long time. The circumstances made me speed up the project”, says Farges, who literally opened a window to the street so he can serve passers-by on the sidewalk. 

“The price [from 3.5 to 18 euros] is attractive, but I think people usually feel intimidated by Michelin-starred restaurants. With this window service, we managed to debunk the idea that a fine-dining restaurant is way too inaccessible,” he says.

Farges recalls a couple who went to Epur to eat at the window and came back the next day and asked for a table. "This pandemic made us look at what is closer to us”, he concludes. Something that many chefs seem more willing to notice.

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