Peruvian chef, Gastón Acurio is a man of many parts. He is not merely the man behind Astrid y Gastón, the restaurant that pioneered the way for Peruvian food worldwide. The multiplicity of his individuality needs its own name. Gastónomy, perhaps, the art of changing the world through cooking.
4 QUESTIONS WITH GASTÓN ACURIO
You often talk about using the power of food to help people around you. How have you achieved this?
It’s a process we’ve started, but it will never end. For example, we support Pachacútec, a cooking school for underprivileged kids in Lima. It was honored a few years ago by Monocle Magazine as the school with the biggest social impact in the world. We also work with small local farmers to promote their produce and local fishermen to help them find better value for their catch in a sustainable way.
Tell us about your plans and hopes for your new culinary university.
We are in the process of building right now. It will open at the beginning of 2017 and will be a space where teachers and students from all over the world can come to teach and learn how to be future leaders of our industry. Students will learn the arts, sciences, and humanities involved. They will go out in the field, to understand the people, environment and challenges, and they’ll learn about the feeling and creating of cooking. After five years, they’ll be prepared to follow their dreams and create opportunities around them.
Since opening the first Astrid y Gastón in 1994, what has surprised you most in your endeavor to promote Peruvian cuisine?
The biggest surprise is how fast our dream of putting Peruvian food into the hearts of the world arrived. We forgot that in this connected world with an open heart for diversity, everybody wants to discover something new. Today all types of Peruvian restaurants are being opened every day. Next month in Paris, on Avenue Montaigne, we’re opening Manko, a Peruvian tapas-style restaurant, bar and cabaret.
In what way can your gourmet fast food restaurants help unite people?
As chefs, we said before that fast food was not for us, because its principles were the opposite of what we do and promote: local ingredients, cooked daily in an artisanal way. But now people everywhere want to eat our food in the way we promote it. How can we limit our skills to only the few who can afford it? It’s time for us to cook without ego and vanity, to use the power of food for the wellness of life.*
*Gastón’s Peruvian-inspired fast food can be witnessed in his restaurants, Madam Tusan, Chi Cha, Pasquale Hermanos, T’anta, La Mar and Panchita. In typical Gastón style, there are more on the way.