Virgilio Martínez on painting, raw fish and the future
The Peruvian chef and Phaidon author shares his passions, culinary perspectives and travel tips with Barron’s
Next time you’re fortunate enough to eat at one of Virgilio Martínez’s restaurants, pay attention to the plating. If you come across an artful stripe Andean tuber sauce, or a beautiful arrangement of ceviche, you might want to thank Martínez’s mother, for nurturing her son’s creative side.
“My mother was a professional painter and recently I’ve started painting with my son a lot,” he told Barron’s Penta supplement. “My mother encouraged me always to paint. Now I’m back to it.”
And fine art isn’t the only source of inspiration Martínez is drawing from these days. He tells Barron’s also a fan of the Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari’s collection of essays, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. “Part of my job involves thinking about what’s going on in the world and thinking about the future,” he says. “I’m always trying to understand people, both in the past and the future."
And, while he’s known for his deep understanding of Peruvian cuisine, Martínez reveals that one of his favourite foodie destinations is Japan. The chef first visited when he was 28 years old, and relished the trip because “I saw a culture that was so different than mine. That really pushed me to understand more about the world and other cultures,” he goes on. “Now when I think about vacation, it’s at the top of my list. I’m not a guy who wants to go to all the museums. I prefer to just walk the streets, see neighborhoods and people.”
In fact, Martínez reveals, he’s going to take a trip to the Japanese capital right after a forthcoming trip to Singapore. “In Tokyo we’ll be visiting sushi spots,” he says. “I just want to see very talented chefs making raw fish. For me the best thing in the world is raw fish.”
To find out where Martínez likes to dine when he’s travelling the world, get a copy of Where Chefs Eat – he’s one of the book’s many featured contributors. Meanwhile, for more on his own inimitable cooking, take a look at Central.