Peru's hottest young culinary star is without a doubt Virgilio Martinez, who recently received a Michelin star at his UK restaurant Lima London. Martinez's Central, opened in 2009, has quickly grown a following for its high-end approach to rare and unusual Peruvian ingredients. Recently Martinez launched Mater Inciativa, a cooperative of culinary types that includes Martinez's wife Paz León, who is Central’s executive chef. The cooperative travels around the country investigating new products and working with local producers. Many of the products, like Amazonian fish and high-altitude algae, make their way onto the menu here, including placement on a phenomenal altitude-based tasting menu that pairs beautifully with one of Lima's best wine programs. The beautiful space, always buzzing, is as impressive as the food, with high ceilings, towering stone walls, an open kitchen, a chocolate cellar, and a rooftop garden. Many consider this to be the best restaurant in Peru and reservations are a must.
- Nicholas Gill