Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino has been announced as the winner of the American Express Icon Award 2019 for Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants for his continuing work to preserve centuries of Amazonian gastronomic knowledge before it lost forever.
The chef gathers knowkedge from local experts deep in the rainforest and brings the ingredients and recipes to his Ámaz restaurant in Lima. The chef’s work is rooted in the indigenous communities who are the keepers of an ancient knowledge of the Amazon and the gastronomical wonders it has to offer.
“Latin America’s main cities were colonised by Europeans, so their way of seeing things, of feeding themselves, is very European,” he says. “In Peru, the state teaches mothers to feed their children yoghurt in a place with no cows, no goats. They teach them to make bread with wheat flour, when they have no wheat. It’s totally wrong. They need to learn how to make flour from yucca, or the corn that is native to the region and makes incredible bread,” he told World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Of course Peruvian cuisine has experienced a boom in recent years, Schiaffino wants to see that pride in Peruvian cuisine work its way upstream to the originators and see communities rediscover their indigenous cuisine.
"The biodiversity and indigenous communities of my country are two of my greatest inspirations. We can talk about individual icons, but I also think an icon can be a whole people, a whole community or indigenous community," said Schiaffino. "I'm humbled to be given a platform to help people see the Amazon differently."
Schiaffino will be recognised for his contributions at Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants 2019 awards, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, on Thursday, 10th October, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This is the first year the event programme has been hosted in Argentina, following previous editions in Colombia, Mexico and Peru.
"Pedro Miguel Schiaffino embodies what it means to be a culinary icon. He has transformed the local gastronomic experience of a nation, all while re-valuing one of its vital cultures," said William Drew, Director of Content for Latin America's Best 50 Restaurants.
The American Express Icon Award 2019 is a deserved accolade for the Peruvian chef who through working globally and through his passions, is changing how we see the Amazon, both at home and globally.