A freedom fighter in the kitchen

It has been claimed that in Peru thousands of youngsters do not dream of becoming a football star but a chef. If that is true, it is thanks to this man. Peruvian top chef Gastón Acurio is the motor of a delicious culinary revolution taking place in Peru. It has made the country the number one culinary destination for food critics from around the globe. He promotes the centuries-old culinary traditions of the Andes, the Amazon rainforest and the Pacific coast that were developed during the Inka empires, Spanish conquistadors and later European and Asian immigrants. Acurio's tv-shows have given voice to today's street kitchens, fishermen and potato growers in the Andean villages that used to be unknown to most of the country’s elite. For Acurio, in a country where part of the population is hungry and lives in poverty, haute cuisine is justified only when it helps to create opportunities for the have-nots. In Peru, it can contribute to combat some of the deepest divisions, inequalities, racism and traumas of brutal conflicts in a society. We met Acurio's students in his culinary arts school in Pachacútec, one of the most poverty-stricken dusty shanty towns of Lima. Acurio shared his ideas on what kind of a dialogue, mutual admiration and sense of belonging culinary arts may create. He also gave insight into the latest gastronomy trends in Lima and revealed whether he is planning or not to take part in the next presidential race in Peru.
Published in Suomen Kuvalehti in 2012.

photos by heli kumpula