Peruvian chef Pía León has opened a new restaurant, at the Palacio Nazarenas hotel in Cusco.
The restaurant is called Mauka after an endangered Incan root vegetable. It will serve as a vehicle to promote, preserve and celebrate Cusquenian cuisine and the rich biodiversity of the terroir, which traverses environments as different as the high altitude of the Andes, to the Amazon rainforest.
The chef, whose work at her Kjolle restaurant, in Lima, won her the accolade of World’s Best Female Chef in 2021, works extensively with her husband Virgilio Martínez on their mission to elevate Peruvian gastronomy through their restaurant Central, also in Lima, and Mil in the Andes. Together they work to collate traditional Peruvian farming and cooking techniques, to empower local indigenous communities and reframe the foodways of the South American country in a sustainable way.
Mauka’s menu tells a story of Peru’s past, present and future, with dishes that include “grains from the Andean plateau with pumpkin cream and beef cheek cooked at a low temperature [above], Urumbamba giant corn, Pampa yuyo, and smoked caiguas.”
“Through my work, I aim to preserve and showcase the megadiversity of my country,” says León in a press release. “I am thrilled to share my vision in Cusco at Palacio Nazarenas. Each region has its own ingredients, each with different tones and nuances, providing a clear identity and history. Mauka continues in the same vein, representing the natural meeting of Peruvian art, biodiversity, and cuisine.”
With León as Culinary Director, the day-to-day running of Mauka will be in the hands of Cusco native Leonel Almanza as Head Chef.