One of Peru’s Best Chefs Is Opening a Pre-Columbian Restaurant 11,500 Feet Above Sea Level

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At 39, Virgilio Martínez has completely dominated the culinary world. He’s considered one of Peru’s best chefs, his Central restaurant is Latin America’s best (4th worldwide), and he earned a Michelin star for London restaurant, Lima. Next, he plans to open a new eatery, 11,500 feet above sea level. Called Mil, the restaurant will sit on the edge of Moray, an Inca ruin in the Andes.

“It’s a 45-minute drive into the mountains, and that’s after you’ve taken a one-hour flight from Lima to Cuzco,” he told Bloomberg. The restaurant will also include a food lab, where he’ll research and grow more ingredients native to Peru. The restaurant will feature 10 employees, who will work alongside botanists, foragers, anthropologists, and artists. He plans to open the restaurant, which will seat 60 in March.

Virgilio’s known for highlighting altitude in his cuisine. As he said in his new cookbook Central, “We cook ecosystems.” The same will go for Mil, where he’ll only cook meals with ingredients found at an altitude of 11,500 feet. He’s also only using ancient indigenous techniques for his restaurant. Virgilio pictures guests sitting around a fire pit eating potatoes and the many different varieties of corn available from Cuzco. “I see them swimming in a sea of corn,” he said. “And then just grabbing an ear and taking a bite.”

On top of his new restaurant, 2017 should prove to be another amazing year for the famed chef. Central is moving to a bigger space to better accommodate the growing crowds. And his wife, Pia, whose cooking is one of the reasons people keep coming back to Central, is opening up her own restaurant right next door. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know too much about what she’ll serve. “She’s shy,” he said. “She’s not telling me what she’s doing.”