The #Cevichepower keeps burning. Celebrated chef and international ambassador for Peruvian food, Gastón Acurio of Astrid y Gastón in Lima (Peru) has been awarded the Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award 2018. This prestigious honour is part of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018, sponsored by S. Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, which has been revealed at an awards ceremony at the Euskalduna Palace in Bilbao, Spain on the evening of 19 June.
The event is a celebration of the very best in global gastronomy, showcasing the Basque region’s outstanding culinary credentials to an international audience of industry professionals and food lovers. Acknowledging this new honour, Acurio said “This award doesn’t only represent the work of a chef committed for over 20 years to spreading the culture of Peru in the world. It also recognises a whole movement of Peruvian chefs and producers who work together to make the world fall in love with the best of our country’s land, people and history. And it also honours a community of chefs that today, all over the world, work in unison carrying the message of gastronomy as a weapon of peace and well-being.” As the 2018 recipient of the Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award, Acurio joins an elite group of international chefs. Former honourees include the UK’s Heston Blumenthal; France’s Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse, Alain Passard and Joel Robuchon, as well as the US’s Alice Waters, Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller.
A visionary chef
Acurio is the one widely credited with bringing Peruvian cuisine to the global scene. He studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where he met his future wife, German pastry chef Astrid Gutsche. In 1994, Acurio and Gutsche returned to Acurio’s home country of Peru, where they founded their flagship restaurant, Astrid y Gastón, inside a small house in the Miraflores district of Lima. Whilst Acurio’s cooking initially had a French focus, he later began to create gourmet Peruvian food, promoting his nation’s cuisine to a worldwide audience as never seen before. His dishes now include the finest ceviches, a take on the Peking duck pancake where guinea pig replaces duck, and purple potatoes stuffed with ArabianAndean scented lamb.
In 2013, Acurio and Gutsche’s work championing Peruvian cuisine paid off when Astrid y Gastón was voted No.1 in the inaugural Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list. A year later, on the 20th anniversary of its opening, the restaurant relocated to its current home, the 17th-century Casa Moreyra in San Isidro district. Refurbished with elegant high-ceilinged grandeur and minimalist décor, Astrid y Gastón now houses a bar, private dining rooms, a development kitchen and a garden, where the team grows its own fresh herbs and vegetables. Today, Acurio leads a young team of talented chefs, striving to bring new ideas, creativity and exceptional food to diners who visit from around the world. The kitchen serves dishes of the highest standard in a uniquely Peruvian setting, while leveraging local producers and suppliers. Acurio returned to cook at the restaurant in 2016 after leaving it in the hands of head chef Diego Muñoz for four years while the former fulfilled a role as an international ambassador for Peruvian food.
Over the last two decades, Acurio has opened multiple Peruvian restaurants across Latin America, Europe and the US including: Café del Museo at the Larco Museum in Lima; La Mar Cevichería with branches in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Panama; Panchita, a Peruvian anticuchería in Miraflores, Lima; Madam Tusan, a chifa franchise offering Chinese-Peruvian fusion dining in Lima and Santiago; Yakumanka in Barcelona and Tanta in Chicago. In addition to being the driving force behind Peruvian cuisine, Acurio also launched a highly successful TV career and frequently appears on La Aventura Culinaria, a broadcast program by PlusTV. The show features Acurio visiting various locations in Lima, as well as other regions of Peru, in search of restaurants and specific types of national dishes. Acurio frequently attends and speaks at leading food events worldwide, and has also written several cookbooks, garnering rave reviews globally.