Chef Virgilio Martínez of Central Restaurante - Biography

Lima, Peru

September 2015

Early in life, Virgilio Martínez was confused about his identity, and that fact alone makes him perfectly Peruvian. Growing up, Martínez made it a rule hat each Sunday his family would eat Chinese food, but he was also interested in Japanese and Italian cuisines—all three of which have had significant influence on Peru’s culinary melting pot. Growing up in Lima, with a burning desire to cook and no culinary school to attend, Martínez decided (after getting his law degree) to travel.

When he ended up in Canada, Martínez got a cooking job. He loved the experience so much that he enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu in London, graduated in 1998, and then worked his way around much of the world. He explored the cuisines of France, Italy, London, Southeast Asia (Martínez traveled and worked in Singapore), and New York (where he worked at Lutèce). After 10 years, Martínez returned home to helm Gastón Acurio’s flagship Astrid y Gastón, eventually exporting the restaurant and the flavors of Peru to Madrid and Bogotá.

Martínez opened his own restaurant, Central, in Lima’s trendy Miraflores neighborhood in 2010, offering market-driven cuisine inspired by the Pacific and the Peruvian Andes. The following year, he set his sights on London, opening Lima in July 2012. Lima focuses on traditional Peruvian dishes with modern approaches. Martínez’s food continues to garner worldwide attention, and Central was ranked fourth on this year’s San Pellegrino “50 Best Restaurants” list.