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Inside ‘Lima,’ Central Chef Virgilio Martínez’s Accessible Take on Peruvian Cuisine

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Peek inside the first cookbook by the Peruvian superstar chef.

Chef Virgilio Martínez's restaurant Central sits pretty at the #4 spot of the World's Best Restaurants list, famously organizing its terrior-focused menu by elevation (from high to low, so guests can taste the differences provided by soil and air). But for his first cookbook, Martínez and his team focused on Peruvian food in general. As the title suggests, Lima the Cookbook: Peruvian Home Cooking features Martínez's take on "accessible" Peruvian dishes, seen through the lens of his UK restaurant Lima London, which opened back in 2012. "The idea with [the] Lima book is to offer some very accessible Peruvian food, recipes that we realized are easy to replicate, and also what we eat in restaurants when we have fun in Lima," he says.

But thanks to Lima's London location, Martínez and his team have branched out, reaching for ingredients that aren't necessarily "traditional" to the cuisine. That's reflected in the book, which keeps the global reader in mind: Each dish is "adaptable to what is available locally," Martínez says. Readers who master the "tiger's milk" base — the liquid marinade for ceviche — can apply it to everything from clams to veal to cocktails. A section devoted to causas (a potato-based dough) applies a basic recipe to dishes featuring octopus, duck, and cured mackerel. "Sometimes we use ingredients that would be unimaginable as part of a Peruvian concept," Martínez says of cooking at Lima London. "We loved the sources and freedom to test with products that are very unfamiliar to our cooking."

The chef isn't done yet. He's also at work on a long-stewing book pegged to his restaurant Central, and says it'll hit shelves next year. But for now, Martínez is looking ahead to Lima. "What is amazing is that there are a lot of elements of Peruvian cuisine — techniques, concepts, recipes, dishes — that have travelled all over the world in the recent years, so it is becoming more familiar day by day," he says. "Peruvian cuisine comes from a natural fusion."

Lima Cookbook: Peruvian Home Cooking, by Virgilio Martínez and Luciana Bianchi, will be published by Mitchell Beazley on October 13. Pre-order here, and catch a sneak peek below: