Massimo Bottura and Gastón Acurio create kitchen alchemy
From soy sauce to omelettes, the chef offers diners at Refettorio Ambrosiano a tasty lesson in Peruvian cuisine
If you’ve got an odd selection of leftovers, or any ingredients close to being thrown away, then it’s probably worth trying a Peruvian recipe. As Massimo Bottura explains in his new book, Bread is Gold, “Peruvian food is a confluence of diverse immigrant heritages, including Spanish, Chinese, African, Japanese and Mezoamerican influences."
And if you’re trying Peruvian cookery, then, you might want some help from Gastón Acurio. The chef, restaurateur and Latin American TV star is “the father of contemporary Peruvian cuisine,” Bottura goes on to explain. “He not only put the international spotlight on Peruvian food but also changed the way Peruvians think about their culinary heritage.”
The two chefs are also good friends, and when Massimo set up his haute cuisine soup kitchen, Refettorio Ambrosiano, in Milan in 2015, he called on Acurio to help.
Massimo’s Refettorio restaurants turn bin-bound ingredients into healthy, tasty meals for the poor. When Gaston dropped by, he took a bunch of leftover capellini pasta, some long-grain rice, plus a little chicken, eggs, vegetables, and pork, and conjured it into a delicious Arroz Chaufa, Peruvian fried rice dish, topped with a Spanish-style omelette. So far, so straight forward.
However, Acurio also added East Asian flavours with a delicious Nikkei sauce. Nikkei cuisine is the kind of food cooked by the large Japanese diaspora in Peru. Gastón sauce exemplifies this relatively novel fusion, combining ingredients from the far side of the Pacific, such as soy sauce and sesame oil, with Peruvian goods, such as potato starch.
Acurio paired this with potatoes in a Peruvian, cheese and stale bread huancaína sauce, a tres leches sponge cake, and a milky ice cream, providing diners with a hearty meal, and a vivid demonstration of the varied influences that go into his country’s’ lively, national cookery habits.
Check back soon for further tales of gastronomic alchemy courtesy of Massimo and his fellow world-famous chefs; you can read about the strawberry gazpacho Daniel Humm conjured out of food waste here; René Redzepi's burnt lime soup here; check out the popcorn chicken recipe Alex Atala created here; to recreate the recipes and learn more about the ideas behind the Refettorio order a copy of Bread is Gold here; and to find out more about the Bottura’s imminent US tour, go here.
You can also find out more about Acurio's own cookery in his book, Peru.