Virgilio Martínez Brings Lima to Brooklyn

The chef of Peru's revered Central celebrates a new cookbook and cooks a #saveursupper for us

Chef Virgilio Martínez is hunched over a plastic container filled with potted flowers. With a pair of tweezers, he plucks off individual petals, placing them in a bowl filled with a red mix of fruits and maca root. These edible flowers serve as a garnish for dessert, and the effect is so colorful and bright, it's hard to imagine a hungry crowd digging into something that looks more like a work of art. He has also brought sheets of edible clay, which he breaks into small pieces and will eventually put in the dessert. Martínez also has coca leaves, multi-colored potatoes, and huge corn kernels that are speckled and striated.

Martínez is aware that his ingredients are not necessarily conventional. As he tells Editor-in-Chief Adam Sachs at Tuesday night's Saveur Supper, "I brought some ingredients from Peru, from the Andes and from Amazonia as well, so I'm bringing ingredients that probably you haven't seen before, which is quite exciting." At Central, Martínez's Lima-based restaurant, these uniquely Peruvian ingredients are organized by altitude, highlighting the country's immense biological diversity. Martínez began cooking after two injuries put his skateboarding career on hold. Now a Michelin-starred chef and owner of Lima in London, Martínez has made it his goal to share Peruvian cuisine around the world. The evening featured cocktails designed by Llama Inn and pisco provided by Macchu Pisco, as well as wine from Roca Rey and David Bowler Wine.

Colorful dishes cover the table | Virgilio Martínez preps for dinner
Colorful dishes cover the table. | Virgilio Martínez preps for dinner.Michelle Heimerman

The dinner isn’t a sit-down formal affair, but Martínez meticulously plates his food for those who line up. He scoops some avocado with red kiwicha and tiger’s milk on a plate next to a bright orange sauce-covered pile of high-altitude tubers. Then, with an artist’s precision, he pulls a giant amaranth leaf out of a bowl of cold water and sets it on the plate.

And now, those who can't get to Martínez's restaurant will still have the chance to learn about his food; his book Central (Phaidon, October 2016), which he co-authored with Nicholas Gill, showcases beautiful photos and in-depth information about where he finds his ingredients.

See below for our photos of the night's festivities.

Chef Fernando Trocca with Martínez
Chef Fernando Trocca with Martínez.Michelle Heimerman
Martínez's brightly-colored spread
Martínez's brightly-colored spread.Michelle Heimerman
Martínez with Chef Ignacio Mattos and Jay Strell
Martínez with chef Ignacio Mattos and Jay Strell.Michelle Heimerman
Chef's Table producers David Gelb and Brian McGinn
Chef's Table producers David Gelb and Brian McGinn.Michelle Heimerman
For dessert, fruit and macay root topped with edible flowers
For dessert, fruit and macay root topped with edible flowers.Michelle Heimerman
Chef Blaine Wetzel and guest
Chef Blaine Wetzel and guest.Michelle Heimerman
The Central team with Phaidon editor Emily Takoudes.
The Central team with Phaidon editor Emily Takoudes (second from left).Michelle Heimerman
Amazonian fish with ungurahui and red cactus
Amazonian fish with ungurahui and red cactus.Michelle Heimerman
Chef Dan Barber and Pía León
Chef Dan Barber and Pía León.Michelle Heimerman
Two guests on [l'Aviva Home poufs](https://lavivahome.com/index.php/collections/cana-flecha-poufs)
Jimena Agois and Elda Cantú on l'Aviva Home poufs.Michelle Heimerman
Just a few of the 3,000 types of potatoes found in Peru
Just a few of the 3,000 types of potatoes found in Peru.Michelle Heimerman
The Central team looks at the *Central* book
The Central team looks at the Central book.Michelle Heimerman
Multicolored corn, brought from Peru
Multicolored corn, brought from Peru.Michelle Heimerman
Editor in Chief Adam Sachs toasts Martínez
Editor in Chief Adam Sachs toasts Martínez.Michelle Heimerman
Grouper in tiger's milk and quinoa
Grouper in tiger's milk and quinoa.Michelle Heimerman
Edible clay and cacao for dessert.
Edible clay and cacao for dessert.Michelle Heimerman