Elizabeth Puquio Landeo might be young but she can already boast some of Latin America’s top restaurants as her training ground.
The Peruvian chef de partie, currently stationed at Ambrosía restaurant in Chile, honed her skills at Central, Maido and Borago and recently took gold in the S.Pellegrino regional heat for South America.
Elizabeth will now have the opportunity to showcase her skills on the world stage at the Grand Finale in May 2018. In Milan that she will face off against 20 finalists competing for the title of the best young chef in the world.
As she finalises the details of her signature dish “Coastal Fish” with mentor Rafael Osterling she spoke to us about the weight of representing the culinary greats of Latin America and the exciting journey ahead.
1. Please describe your signature dish, and explain why you choose this dish over any other?
My dish has "mackerel" as the protein, this fish is marinated in vinegar and spices, accompanied by a bernaise of squid ink, avocado, lemon gel, powder of sea parsley, salicornia, oxalis carnosa and dashi caviar. It’s a dish that reminds me of my childhood and when my mom made many dishes using this "mackerel" fish.
Elizabeth Puquio Landeo won with her signature dish Pescado de la Costa: marinated mackerel with squid ink mayonnaise, quenelled avocado and drops of lime gel garnished with oxalis, cappuccinos and salicornia served on a cold plate
2. What made you become a chef?
I like cooking a lot, thanks to my mom and grandmother. I always saw them cook with such love to the kitchen, that always caught my attention and made me like cooking even more. That's why I started studying at 18 and working at the same time.
3. Who has influenced you in your career?
Virgilio Martinez was the one who greatly influenced my professional growth. I had the opportunity to work in his Central restaurant for 2 years, where I learned many cooking techniques, supplies and most importantly to value the ingredient. He is a great chef whom I respect.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years’ time?
I want to continue growing as a professional, continue to learn new traditions and cultures from various places, so in the future I can have a business where I can demonstrate the type of cuisine I like and the great things I have learned throughout my career.
5. How are you/will you collaborate with your mentor, Rafael Osterling, in order to perfect your dish for the Grand Finale?
Rafael Osterling is a great chef, very renowned. With his help we can achieve big things. I have ideas for the final dish and I know his great criteria will keep me on the right track.
6. What is the most exciting/challenging element of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition for you?
I am very excited to compete with other chefs from different parts of the world, I know that each one aims to win so there will be an entertaining competition with great talents.
Elizabeth Puquio Landeo exulting after the competition
7. Why do you think you can win the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 title?
Representing Latin America is a dream that I am fulfilling and in my region, there are great chefs with very successful careers. I hope to win with great expectations of a great competition.
8. If you weren’t a chef what would you be?
If I had not chosen this wonderful career that has allowed me to live great experiences I think I would have been an architect. I like architecture a lot, along with being able to appreciate the different forms and places of the world.
9. What’s your most memorable food experience?
I have many moments that I remember, but especially it was a dinner in Central which has a great kitchen with great talents. This place makes you live an experience where it shows all the work of years as well as being a walk-through Peru with every dish you taste.
10. What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I like to learn a lot more about the kitchen by reading interviews with great chefs. I am also entertained by watching gastronomy series along with reading books on the subject to keep me updated about things happening in the gastronomic world.