The annual The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna is regarded as the most celebrated international restaurant awards in the industry. Upscale Living magazine highlights three of the Top 5 restaurants in the Continental Restaurant Awards 2019 as awarded by country.
Virgilio Martinez is a world-renowned Peruvian Chef and restaurateur. Considered a member of the Peruvian Chefs organically formed movement at the forefront of spreading Peruvian cuisine globally, Virgilio’s philosophy and cooking style are based on exploring everything there is “outside,” and this is the primary goal pursued by his research NGO Mater, Iniciativa.
Through his cuisine, he showcases Peruvian biodiversity and the importance of the social and ecological environments through the creation of his very unique food concepts. A passion for discovery is what initially led Virgilio into the culinary world. He found that being a cook would allow him to travel the world while realizing his curiosity for experiencing different cultures.
Virgilio finally wanted to develop his view of Peruvian food, so he started a new journey. In 2009, Virgilio returned to Peru and opened his own restaurant Central. In 2013, Mater Iniciativa was co-founded by Virgilio and his sister Malena. Mater was created as a research, interpretation, and experimentation center to be able to learn more about Peruvian ingredients in their place of origin.
Over time, Mater has successfully expanded its purpose beyond its original focus of food studies with scientists & biologists. The NGO now works with anthropologists, neurologists, ceramists, biologists, fashion designers, etc.
Mater Iniciativa allows Virgilio, in his own words, to “keep organized and to bring meaning to his dishes.” Through the work of Mater, Virgilio is able to portray a deep connection to nature, social ecosystems, and relevant cultural traits with his menu. Virgilio’s dishes are not just a food statement, they are a showcase, and a story of the adventures and offers of Peru.
Virgilio’s first restaurant, Central, opened its doors in 2009 in Miraflores, Lima. Central uses the theme of Altitudes to inform guests on the different ingredients Peru has to offer. The full 16-course experience allows visitors to experiment with ingredients from altitudes from -25m to 4050m, allowing them to experience a unique Peruvian adventure.
“The building block of Peruvian cuisine is its diversity. When you travel to different regions, you will understand different areas will feature cuisine built on different dishes or execution of ingredients.”
In 2018, Central closed the operation in Miraflores and relocated to Barranco, the Bohemian district of Lima. Virgilio describes Barranco as the cultural center of Lima. The decision to move his critically acclaimed restaurant came as he wanted to be more immersed in an upcoming area that was aligned with his values of exploration and development.
In 2006, Mauro Colagreco established Mirazur in Menton in an unusual 1930’s Modernist building, with sweeping views of the Mediterranean. Just six months after opening, Colagreco received the ‘Revelation of the Year’ award, a brand-new category to recognize his merits from Gault Millau and in less than a year, his first Michelin star.
In 2009, Mirazur officially became one of the best restaurants in the world listed in The S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant list. The list has become the most anticipated indicator of the best places
to eat globally. In the same year, Colagreco was also awarded “Chef of the Year” by the prestigious Gault & Millau restaurant guide – the first non-French chef ever to have received this title.
In 2010, Mirazur gained four toques Gault&Millau Guide to France 2010; in February 2012, Mauro Colagreco was awarded his second Michelin star and a prestigious third star in February 2019. Mirazur was declared No one at The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards 2019, marking the first time France has received the number one position since the awards started in 2002.
Italo-Argentinian Mauro Colagreco is Chef Patron of restaurant Mirazur, with training at the Gato Dumas hotel school in Buenos Aires, where he worked in some of the city’s most prestigious restaurants including Catalinas, Rey Castro, Mariani, and Azul Profundo.
In 2001, as a newly qualified chef, Colagreco headed to France and took an internship with Bernard Loiseau, where he remained as demi-chef de Partie until Loiseau’s death in 2003. He then worked in Paris and held the positions of sous-chef de cuisine to Alain Passard at l’Arpège, demi-chef de Partie at Alain Ducasse at the Hotel Plaza Athénée, finally spending a year at Le Grand Véfour.
Mirazur’s south facing position provides the perfect environment for Colagreco to grow a vast vegetable garden, harvest his avocados from a two-hundred-year-old tree and pick the best and ripest fruit
from the citrus orchard. Perhaps Colagreco’s most important characteristic is his ability to seamlessly marry the land and sea. His menu draws comfortably from local seafood found in the Bay of Menton, delicacies from the region, and produce from his private gardens and orchards.
Mauro Colagreco’s cuisine defies categorization. His dishes embrace the surroundings in a unique and all-encompassing way. Mauro’s skill lies in his sensitive balance of taste and flavor, allowing each magnificent ingredient of its place. His attention to detail even considers the effects of the air in the restaurant.
Claiming the 44th position as well as the Best in Africa is the world-famous The Test Kitchen in Cape Town, South Africa. To win a place within The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards Top 100 and indeed the Top 50 is what any world-class chef aspires to, and The Test Kitchen’s Luke Dale Roberts is no exception.
“Since its inception in 2010 I’ve always wanted to feature on the list, it has become an excellent reflection of who is making waves in the international food arena”, says Luke who was placed at 50th in 2018, 22nd in 2016, 28th in 2015, and 48th in 2014, – the only chef ever in Africa to have his restaurant feature four times.
2015, 2016, and 2018 also saw The Test Kitchen win Best Restaurant in Africa, an impressive accolade indeed. With The Test Kitchen’s 44th place on the World’s Best 50 Restaurants list, and once again being heralded as the Best Restaurant in Africa, Luke is undoubtedly in a stellar gourmet company, and the week-long event is a veritable melting pot featuring the best in the kitchen.
“Going to the awards has been a real highlight for me these past few years; can you imagine having so many incredible chefs in one space? It’s pretty mind-blowing,” says Luke.
At The Test Kitchen in Woodstock in Cape Town, the Dark and Light Rooms experience continues to delight the limited number of diners (only 41 guests are seated per evening) with their sophisticated epicurean offering. Dressed by Sandalene Dale Roberts, Luke’s wife, and business partner, in many of her furniture designs and featuring walls clad with charred wood, the Dark Room is an ultra-cool seating area where mixology-style cocktails and appetizers create a sultry mood for Luke’s magnificent food.
A gong announces the time to move to the Light Room, where the epicurean adventure (there are 21 courses in total) commences. The experience is understandably booked out months in advance thanks to its marriage of food theatre and artistry that, despite its complexity, stays true to the essence of the ingredients used.
Bookings are open quarterly from 08h00am (South African time) on the 1st of the following months: December, March, June, and September. They no longer take reservations via e-mail; however, they will still be able to assist telephonically + 27 (021) 447 2337.