Virgilio Martinez’s Peruvian Vision at Culinary Carousel
The second edition of Culinary Carousel took place on the 12th of October at Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura Florence with the highly acclaimed guest chef Virgilio Martinez. The Peruvian chef and restaurateur joined Co-Executive Chefs Karime López and Takahiko Kondo as they prepared a surprise menu that transformed the evening into a series of revelations, elevations, cultural convergence and precious reunions.
Peru in Italy, and vice versa – each dish revealed a conversation between the two faraway places, linking different elements and habitats via the creativity and profound research of the chefs. Key to the menu development was Virgilio’s philosophy of ‘exploring everything that is “outside”‘, one that he has maintained since the beginning of his career and continues through his flagship restaurant Central in Lima and research organization Mater Iniciativa, among others.
The evening was more than a meeting of cultures on the plate, but also a reunion of old friends – before joining the Gucci family, Karime spent several years working alongside Virgilio in Lima, first at Central, then leading the research team at Mater Iniciativa. The chefs, connected by their shared experiences, were able to transmit their diverse ideas, backgrounds, skills and interpretations to the table, creating a unique laboratory of tastes for the guests.
The team presented eight dishes: each dish referred to the ecosystem and altitude of Peruvian ingredients while highlighting selected local ingredients. Foods such as rare chunco cacao from Peru, Amazonian nuts, corn from the Sacred Valley and pisco, mingled with Italian culinary stars such as chestnuts, coppa, pecorino, lentils, and more, showcasing the level of creativity, skill, and knowledge of the three chefs.
The entire menu thus took diners on a journey through different environments from the deep seas 15 meters below sea level (BSL) to the highest mountain plains of Peru at 4,200 meters above sea level (AMSL). The evening concluded with Taka’s spaghetti, “a dish of love” that reassembled the memories of Taka and Karime’s long distance relationship across Modena and Lima, and their brief meetings in Lima (where Karime was based, working with Virgilio).
The evening was a continuation of the recently launched series, Culinary Carousel, that offers playful dining experiences. Surprise menus capture the beauty of diverse food cultures and highlight the creativity of some of the globe’s most celebrated chefs. The series underlines the spirit of the Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura restaurants that embrace the concept of creative experimentation and multicultural influences in food while being faithful to the culinary legacy of its location, Florence, and the food philosophy of Chef Massimo Bottura.
Dark Blue Pacific 15m BSL, highlighting lemon: scallops in yellow tiger’s milk made with Italian lemon, with crispy yuyo and blue spirulina, topped with fresh sea urchin and red cucumber;
Extreme Altitude 4200m AMSL, Pecorino: corn from the Sacred Valley in Cusco, Peru, with Andean grain covered in a puree of purple corn and Italian pecorino, topped with crisps of corn and kiwicha;
Desertic Coast 0m AMSL, Lentils: representing the desert ecosystem that borders the sea, sliced squid served with lentil air, topped with coastal pepper fresh codium (a seaweed variety) and sargassum;
Chianti Hills 230m AMSL, Sweetbread: created by Karime as a tribute to the Tuscan countryside, animelle, or sweetbread, was the protagonist of the dish that celebrates the region whose autumn is full of treasures such as porcini mushrooms;
Hillside Valley 2300m AMSL, Coppa: pork cheek in two expressions – marinated with huacatay (a Peruvian herb) and anticuchera (sauce made with chilli known as panka) sauce, both traditional ingredients of Peruvian cuisine, along with a broth made of Italian coppa salame; loche squash puree, finished with slices of olluco (Andean tuber) and loche covered with huacatay oil;
Coastal Flora 500m AMSL, Grapes: spongy coconut and syrup made from pisco, an emblematic Peruvian spirit, covered with palo santo infusion and coconut powder., accompanied by ice made from grape and muña (a medicinal plant);
Mountain Amazonia 900m AMSL, Chestnut: mix of chuncho cacao (a variety endemic to Peru, known to survive at extreme and different altitudes) and chestnut mousse, served with different textures of cacao and syrup made from the yacon roots, a tuber recognized for its sweet taste. Accompanied by a blend made of ice and shredding of the Amazonian nuts;
Finally, the surprise dish: Artichoke Ceviche Spaghetti, described as “a dish of love” by Taka, refers to the unofficial Italian tradition of the spaghettata di mezzanotte, the midnight serving of spaghetti. A dish that reassembles the memories of the couple’s long-distance relationship between Modena and Lima, and meeting in Lima where they shared a dish of ceviche. Instead of the traditional ceviche ingredient of fish, he used artichoke, a local ingredient from Florence.