Minute on the Clock – Virgilio Martinez

20 February 2012 by
Minute on the Clock – Virgilio Martinez

Virgilio Martinez, chef-patron of the Central fine-dining restaurant in Peru, will open Peruvian restaurant Lima in London in the spring. He tells Kerstin Kühn about his plans and the country's globally influenced cuisine

Why did you decide to open a restaurant in London?
I worked in London for a few years, including at Italian restaurant Quadrato and at the Ritz. I have been coming to London for many years and there are so many different ethnic restaurants here but I have never seen a Peruvian offering.

Tell us about your forthcoming restaurant, Lima.
It will open in Fitzrovia in May and it will be an 80-cover, modern fine-dining restaurant divided into two areas, an informal cocktail bar and a more formal dining room. Interiors will be very organic, showcasing the biodiversity of Peru. The space will be formal but informal at the same time, with no tablecloths; we want to create a formal restaurant but with a relaxed atmosphere. We are working with designers March & White on the interiors.

What will the food be like?
We want to give a few examples of traditional Peruvian cuisine but we also want to show what's happening in Lima right now. In the past five years there has been a huge development in the restaurant scene there, which is really cosmopolitan now. We will work with local suppliers here but I have many local producers in Peru and I want to bring some of their amazing produce here, such as organic cacao, coffee, chilli, herbs and potatoes.

How would you describe Peruvian cuisine?
Peruvian cuisine has lots of global influences, especially Asian, including Japanese and Chinese, so we have a lot of seafood and rice. We also use a lot of spices and coriander. Then there's the cuisine of the Andes, so we use a lot of potatoes and herbs from the jungle.

Are you concerned that there's another Peruvian restaurant - Ceviche - just about to open in London?
I think it's great. We need to make a big noise about Peruvian cuisine. It's known in other countries but not so much here and we want to introduce people to it. There's a lot of foodie tourists now coming to Peru so hopefully we can inspire people from London to travel to Peru.

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