“This award doesn’t only represent the work of a chef committed for over 20 years to spreading the culture of Peru in the world. It also recognises a whole movement of Peruvian chefs and producers who work together to make the world fall in love with the best of our country’s land, people and history,” says Gastón Acurio of Astrid y Gastón in Lima, the country’s capital.
A visionary and celebrated chef, Gastón is the winner of this year’s Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award 2018. He joins an elite group, including the UK’s Heston Blumenthal; France’s Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse, Alain Passard and Joel Robuchon, as well as the US’s Alice Waters, Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller.
Widely credited with bringing Peruvian cuisine to the global scene, Gastón studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where he met his future wife, German pastry chef Astrid Gutsche.
In 1994, Gastón and Astrid returned to Gastón’s home country of Peru, where they founded their flagship restaurant, Astrid y Gastón, inside a small house in the Miraflores district of Lima. Whilst Gastón’s cooking initially had a French focus, he later began to create gourmet Peruvian food, promoting his nation’s cuisine to a worldwide audience as never seen before.
His dishes now include the finest ceviches, a take on the Peking duck pancake where guinea pig replaces duck, and purple potatoes stuffed with Arabian-Andean scented lamb.
In 2013, the couple’s hard work paid off when Astrid y Gastón was voted No.1 in the first Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list. A year later, on the 20th anniversary of its opening, the restaurant relocated to its current home, the 17th-century Casa Moreyra in San Isidro district. Refurbished with elegant high ceilinged grandeur and minimalist décor, Astrid y Gastón now houses a bar, private dining rooms, a development kitchen and a garden, where the team grows its own fresh herbs and vegetables.
Today, the couple and a young team of chefs, constantly search for new flavours and ideas, which attracts diners from around the world.
During the last two decades, Gastón has opened multiple Peruvian restaurants across Latin America, Europe and the US including Café del Museo at the Larco Museum in Lima; La Mar Cevichería with branches in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Panama; Panchita, a Peruvian anticuchería in Miraflores, Lima; Madam Tusan, a chifa franchise offering Chinese-Peruvian fusion dining in Lima and Santiago; Yakumanka in Barcelona and Tanta in Chicago.
Gastón has also had a highly successful TV career, attends and speaks at leading food events worldwide and has written several acclaimed cookbooks.