Just like him kjollea tree that grows in the extreme heights of Peru, surrounded by species that resist adverse climatic conditions, blooms with beautiful and luminous orange shoots, chef Pía León, with a firm step, makes her way on the world gastronomic scene, takes root, germinates and shines wherever it undertakes.
Recognized as the best chef in the world in 2021 by The World’s 50 Best RestaurantsPía, since the opening of Kjölle (2018)a restaurant he runs in Lima, Peru, without the direct interference of the Chef Virgilio Martinezhas set out to find and show his voice in the kitchen, one that puts the ingredient on a pedestal and adorns the richness of the popular culture of his land.
“In Kjolle everything is much freer, it’s more like me; it is a place of instincts and moments. You invariably see things from Central, because Central also lives in me, but at Kjolle we don’t work with ecosystems, nor does each dish come from a single height, rather you find products from the jungle, but with touches of the Andes if it provokes us. We don’t focus on the height, but on the product”, says the chef who for just over 10 years was head chef at Central, the best restaurant in America and the second in the world, only behind the Danish Geranium.
Visiting Mexico, to offer a meal of Kjolle en Pujol, the chef spoke with gastrolab about his gastronomic concerns, as well as his visit to our country, “I didn’t hesitate for a minute to come cook at Pujol, I really enjoy Mexico and not to mention its cuisine, for me to be able to show the diversity of products that we have in Peru, It is very important, we brought ingredients from the coast, from the Andes, from the Amazon; Lots of color, lots of texture. We made a fun and light seven-course menu.”
Proud of where she comes from, the Peruvian chef highlighted the range of ingredients that Peruvian cuisine has, which, without a doubt, has put them in the eye of world gastronomy, “we have the advantage that in 45 minutes you can be completely in another territory; it can be the mountains (Cusco) or the Amazon. We have great opportunities to learn, to know cultures, ancient techniques. We work hand in hand with Mater, which is the research center run by Malena, Virgilio’s sister, my sister-in-law, where we carry out a very close work because they give us information and with it we can express ourselves in the kitchen in our own way”.
With an open mind, the chef tries, in addition to maintaining the current ancestral techniques, not to rescue them, but to make them known and occupy them, “we do not want them to be lost, it is a reality, but although our priority is gastronomic, We also work with other disciplines, we have a very nice textile project called Warmi, which is traditional alpaca wool fabrics based in Cusco, there we rescue the ways of weaving; all this wool is painted naturally with plants from the heights. Also the part of the restaurant tableware, all worked with local artists and designed by us with clay, wood and stones from the Amazon. The idea is also to bring gastronomy to other areas, to create a broader and more enriching experience”.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Going back to the origin, going towards nature and respecting tradition are the tendencies that Pía sees in the panorama, “I believe that the concept of luxury is going to change towards having real experiences, contact and closeness with the communities, listening to the people of the countryside, living the countryside, seeing the ingredients grow, that is luxury. I’m not much of thinking about the future, I like to move forward, little by little, but always with intention”, finished.
- Kjolle restaurant has been in operation for 4 years.
- The Peruvian chef Pía León is 35 years old.
THE MENU IN PUJOL
- A maca bread that was served with uchucuta de ajíes, a typical sauce from the Andes.
- A dish that has been in Kjolle since day one, where we use tubers, olluco, yuca, potato.
- A delicious lobster with a local pumpkin, to spoon.
- To close with a flourish, a cocoa-based dessert was served.
- “Each of our dishes has meaning and tells a story.”
AROUND THE WORLD
“We are opening a Central and Kjolle pop up in Singapore.”
In Tokyo, Virgilio Martínez and Pía opened Maz, for only 20 people.
“Focused on the cocoa work; we’re very into that.”
“We seek to take advantage of the peel, mucilage, veins and seeds.”
THE KJOLLE LETTER
“It always goes according to the change of season, to the closures and seasons.”
“In our kitchen we are very inspired by travel, seeing and feeling nature, and even talking to people.”
Pía León, chef at Kjolle.