Back in 2004 The Economist magazine wrote that Peru was in the throes of a “spontaneous revolution” in gastronomy and could lay claim to one of the world’s dozen or so great cuisines.
Original, vibrant, entertaining, unbelievably diverse, tasty, and most importantly, healthy, Peruvian cuisine has rapidly gained more and more fans all over the world. A visit to Peruvian restaurants has recently become a kind of a ‘must’ among trendsetters in European metropolitan cities. So, what is the secret of this vivacious, ‘sought after’ cuisine?
Besides the number of ingredients and spices, which in a way mirrors the geographic diversity of Peru itself, what distinguishes Peruvian cuisine from others is its openness to new influences and skilful integration of other culinary cultures into its own tradition. This is what makes Peruvian cuisine the ‘ultimate fusion’ cuisine. Historically, this cuisine developed under the influences of indigenous ancient Indian cultures (pre-Incas) and then later the Incas themselves. The cuisine was later influenced by Spanish conquerors and immigrant cultures – from Arabic and African to Italian, French and English culture and additional Latin-American countries and cultures. The cuisines of Polynesia, China, India, Japan and Thailand also added their own unique influences.
If by chance you have not yet experienced your Peruvian gastronomic moment, this is what you should go for:
Peruvian dishes are rich in flavours due to numerous spices used during cooking and food preparation.
Peruvian people proudly state that their culinary style is unique – so does Roberto Chavez, the young head chef of Victoria Restaurant & Lounge Bar, the first Peruvian restaurant on the Adriatic. While combining fresh local ingredients with ethnic influences that make Peruvian cuisine so authentic, he prepares meals which reflect harmony and happiness beyond the kitchen.
Talking about his inspiration, Roberto says – ‘My decision to become a chef happened accidentally. On one occasion my father invited me to help him in his restaurant. It was then, at the moment when I entered the professional kitchen, that I realized I cherish a true passion for food and cooking. My father has always been my greatest inspiration when it comes to cooking.’
This young Peruvian chef studied gastronomy in Lima, Peru, and afterwards went to Mexico for further specialization – still, he claims that the best school he ever experienced was the time he spent in the kitchen, which was almost all of his life. He has received numerous accolades for his work but he considers his greatest achievements to be direct compliments from the people for whom he cooks.
He especially likes to prepare dishes with fresh tuna – in Peru it is Aji Amarillo tuna, while when abroad he likes to use olive oil and additional spices. Our chef describes his kitchen as simple, fresh and healthy. The dish he is most famous for is ceviche, while in Victoria Restaurant you will be able to taste his grand Nikei Ceviche, one of the restaurant’s two signature dishes.
Set on a grapevine-draped terrace overlooking the sublime Adriatic Sea, Victoria is a destination in itself.
In a brief future, the restaurant will be the place where Roberto joins forces with local chef Luka Jukić, and taking on the challenge of experimenting with the best of local ingredients while creating the first Peruvian/Adriatic fusion. The greatest task for our chefs will be balancing the spices. Chavez noticed that Croatian cuisine depends on spices as much as Peruvian does, therefore when combining two cuisines, a synergy of spices will be essential to create a successful fusion.
When preparing the menu for this new restaurant, Roberto’s first thoughts were about the Adriatic as an excellent source of good seafood. Since the restaurant is located on the seaside, the sounds, colours and scents of the sea are his constant inspiration while cooking and tasting.
Asked to describe the Victoria Restaurant in few words, Roberto calls it authentic, original, beautiful, vibrant, and completely different – just like Peruvian cuisine.
Visit us on Instagram