Mitsuharu Tsumura is the Peruvian chef responsible for making the tradition and wealth of Nikkei cuisine gain fame in the world and helping put Peru in the spotlight of world gastronomy. Micha, as he is known, is the head chef and owner of Maido, in Lima, which has been elected for two consecutive years the best restaurant in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list (and which is also among the top 10 in the World’s list).
His version of Peruvian cuisine - and it is important to say that there are many sub-kitchens in the country, such as the regional ones, the criolla, etc - is influenced by his own story of a descendant of Japanese immigrants who was born in Lima (in 1981). Nikkei is not a Japanese cuisine, as many think, but a typical Peruvian cuisine that had its influences in Japanese gastronomy, mainly in techniques, but with local ingredients. Tsumura was one of the pioneers in bringing to the language of restaurants this Nikkei food that has always been restricted to the houses of Japanese immigrants since it has always been hearty cuisine.
At Maido, he recreates recipes with a deep search for local produce from distinct regions of Peru – from the Amazon to the south. Maido’s tasting menus encompass dishes such as fish hotdog, sea urchin rice, cod marinated in miso with nuts, and nigiri from the catch of the day.
Encouraged by his father to turn his passion for cooking into a profession, he studied Culinary Arts and Food and Beverage Administration at Johnson & Wales University, Rhode Island. When he graduated, he decided to go to Osaka, Japan, learn about his cultural and culinary heritage. During his Japanese experience, he worked in restaurants such as acclaimed Seto Sushi and Imo to Daikon (Izakaya style cuisine).
Back to Peru, Tsumura worked at the Sheraton Hotel, where he became the Food and Beverage Manager; but it was his passion for Japanese-Peruvian cuisine that led him to open Maido in 2009. Maido, which means ‘welcome’ in Japanese, did not take long to gain the food world’s attention, becoming one of the most acclaimed of Peru. Mitsuharu work focuses on searching techniques, ingredients, and dishes of Nikkei cuisine and is inspired by the incredible biodiversity that Peru has.
Tsumura is currently the President of the organizing committee of Mistura, the most popular food event in Peru. In co-authorship with the writer Josefina Barron presents her book "NikkeiesPerù" in 2013). Recently, Tsumura expanded his concept of casual cuisine, with Sushi Pop, an affordable sushi chain in Lima with delivery options (which already has three venues in the city). He even embraced the fast-casual concept with Karai, to serve Nikkei food in Santiago, Chile, and with plans to open a new branch in Bogotá, Colombia. Within his plans to expand the presence of Peru in the gastronomy world, he recently opened Ají restaurant in Macao, China, serving many of his signature hits alongside flavorsome Peruvian fish tiraditos and Japanese nigiri. Thanks to the spread of Peruvian cuisine worldwide, he says he can already find ajís (Peruvian chilli) and other ingredients that are decisive for recreating his recipes outside Peru.