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Peru at the forefront of the culinary stage
20
July
2016
Manuella Magnin
Ivalu AcuIvalu Acurio is following in the footsteps of Gastón, her world-famous father. A student at the École hôtelière in Lausanne (EHL), in March 2016 she won the Sandwich World Cup in Paris.

El Chimbobazo… Yes, that’s the name of a sandwich created in Lausanne, Switzerland, and its reputation has made waves around the world. Two slices of quinoa bread, baked cod, red onions and yellow chilli pepper with a subtle hint of fruitiness (aji amarillo)… All served with chimichurri de huacatay, a condiment made with an aromatic herb with a flavour somewhere between mint, apple, geranium and lemongrass, and known, among other names, as wild marigold in English.

 

With this Peruvian-flavoured snack, Ivalu Acurio won the 11th Sandwich World Cup in Paris in March 2016, before a high-ranking jury. The theme of the most recent competition, which is held every two years, was ‘the sandwich of my homeland’. Ivalu persuaded the experts and won hands down, ahead of participants from Greece and Turkey. The young chef is thus following in the footsteps of her father, who propelled Peru onto the world culinary stage in the late 1990s.

A passion for Peruvian cuisine

 

El Chimbobazo confirms the new fascination with a cuisine that was barely known twenty years ago. In April it was served at three sandwich shops in the French-speaking part of Switzerland and proved so successful that the owners of the establishments, who had set this challenge to the student at the École hôtelière, decided to put the famous sandwich as a special on the menu at the end of each month. “Throughout April, we were selling a hundred a day,” remarks Thierry Joho, owner of the sandwich chain Sucré-Salé. “It wasn’t a foregone conclusion, though. People aren’t used to eating fish in a sandwich. They were taken with the flavours of the yellow chilli pepper and of the huacatay. Its success confirms people’s interest in different flavours that reveal unknown lands.”

 

Head of a vast empire of 45 restaurants across three continents, Gastón Acurio has become the ambassador for traditional Peruvian food culture and is a veritable idol in his native country. He has contributed to making Peruvian cuisine a source of national pride as it expands around the whole world. Yet, as the renowned Gastón confided to us in his offices in Lima last year, he hopes to continue along the path he has chosen, i.e. to promote the riches of his country, while upholding the cause of local farmers.

Peru is a land of 1000 faces and also a paradise for lovers of fine dining. The coast, the Andes and the Amazon abound with produce with extraordinary flavours. The efforts of Gastón Acurio, now joined by many other chefs from his country as well as by his daughter Ivalu, have brought out the best in every local ingredient. They extol the authenticity and subtle differences in a symphonic fusion that thrills gourmets. This is true above all in Lima, a city marked by successive waves of immigration that have transformed each original dish into an extraordinary blend of influences.

 

Nature abounds with a cornucopia of products that serve as inspiration. These include many varieties of corn and potatoes, typical grains such as quinoa, amaranth, the freshest fish and seafood, and herbs with surprising tastes. Not to mention the delicious fruit of Amazonia and amazing peppers. With her Chimbobazo, Ivalu Acurio is following in her father’s footsteps by contributing to popularising these products and the culinary traditions of her country.

Chimichurri

Chimichurri is a South American condiment originating in Argentina, traditionally prepared from a variety of ingredients including parsley, garlic, paprika, oil, vinegar, chilli pepper, oregano, cumin, thyme, coriander leaves, lemon, and bay leaves. Tomatoes and peppers can be added to give it a pretty red colour.

Huacatay

Known in English as wild marigold, among other names, huacatay is a plant from the Asteraceae family originally from the southern half of South America. It grows among rubble and waste ground, and along roadsides and paths. Used as flavouring in Latin America, it is also prized by perfumers for its aromas of apple, mint and geranium and its subtle lemongrass fragrance.

Sandwich World Cup  www.dswc.delifrance.com

Sucré-Salé sandwich shops in Lausanne and Pully, Switzerland www.sucre-sale.ch

Astrid & Gastón restaurant in Lima, Peru www.astridygaston.com

Manuella Magnin

Culinary Journalist - www.lesdelicesdemanuella.ch

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