Can Ceviche conquer the world?

That day is already here, with even non-native chefs exploring Peruvian flavors these days:Alain Ducasse introduced a ceviche menu at Rech, his Paris seafood restaurant, last year, and José Andrés just launched his own Chinese-Peruvian spot, China Chilcano, in Washington, D.C.

But that gang of Peru’s own chefs has done the real work of promoting the country’s mix of indigenous ingredients and immigrant influences from Italy, Spain, China, Japan. They’ve been traveling widely on the food-festival circuit, celebrating Peru’s bountiful larder—the coastal seafood, the tropical fruit from the Amazon, the 4,000 varieties of Andean potato—collaborating on dinners, lectures and cooking demonstrations abroad; and opening their own outposts overseas. “We realized that if we worked together we could get to the point where Peruvian food would be a brand known and valued all over the world,” said Mr. Acurio.

Interest generated abroad has helped fuel culinary tourism to Peru. “People used to hop immediately to Cusco to see Machu Picchu,” said Rafael Osterling, a popular chef who, for four years, hosted a cooking show broadcast across Latin America. “Now they stay in Lima for a few days to eat.”

Peru’s gastronomic ascent began in earnest in 2002, when Mr. Acurio, who worked in Paris as a young chef, started to transition from French food to high-end Peruvian at his flagship restaurant, Astrid y Gastón, in Lima. Up to then, the city’s fine-dining options had been all European. A top-down revolution followed, the country’s modern food movement led by a new breed of privileged (and well traveled) chefs, many of them scions of Peru’s most prominent and affluent families.

 

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