Four chefs – from Austria, Peru, Venezuela and Ireland – dish on their favourite eateries in their hometowns.
#1: Daniel Chavez
OLA Cocina del Mar
Hometown: Lima, Peru
“Some years ago, people used to refer to “fusion cuisine” in a negative way, but in Peru, that’s what people do regularly at home.
That’s because Peru used to be part of the Inca Empire before the Spanish invasion, and they brought African slaves and the Arab influences in their cooking. We also had Chinese, Italians after that, and most recently, the Japanese. That’s seven diverse cuisines in one country. So ‘fusion’ is natural for us.
Jr. Libertad 1412, Magdalena del Mar
This restaurant is a traditional Northern Picanteria in the Magdalena district. I love their Majado de Yuca which is a hearty dish of stewed tapioca with pieces of fried pork with cumin, and just the right amount of chilli. The restaurant also cures its own cecina, or air-dried meat, like beef.
Al Toke Pez
Av. Angamos 886, Surquillo
This is a Nikkei Cebicheria (cevicheria) run by Toshi Matsufuji, the son of famous Japanese-Peruvian chef Dario Matsufuji. It is located in the Surquillo district, and I love the Sudado de Pescado Nikkei (a fish stew) for its unbelievably delicate flavours. The chef has great knowledge of how to handle fish.
#2: ANDREW WALSH
Hometown: Breaffy, Ireland
“Irish food has very bold, clean flavours, and purity is a big factor. Chefs emphasise simplicity in cooking because Ireland went through the Potato Famine where we had no food for years. So chefs tend to treat food with an extra layer of respect.
Ireland produces great dairy like cream, butter and cheese, and we have beautiful Irish blood sausages made with pigs or elk blood. There’s also seafood like oysters and crab from the sea around Ireland, and our salmon is one of the best because of the strong currents.
Mitchell’s Seafood Restaurant
Market Street, Clifden, Galway
We used to visit this place on family occasions. The seafood chowder is very good, and you can order a massive bowl with clams, lobster, scallops, and share it with the entire family. I love this place for the experience – we don’t have hawkers in Ireland, so this is about the closest we have to sitting around and sharing something together.
12 Father Griffin Road, Galway
Anton’s is a bit unknown, but they do a lovely warm fish pie that’s soft inside with a crust on top. It has things like smoked salmon, prawns, a soft-cooked egg – which I love, plus lobsters, oysters, mussels, clams. I don’t get to go back to Ireland very much, maybe every two or three years, but I remember this place. They play live traditional Irish music so there’s a nice warm atmosphere as well.
#3: GISELA SALAZAR GOLDING
Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela
“Venezuela is a country of immigrants, so we’ve incorporated a lot of culinary traditions into our kitchens, with influences from Africa and Europe – mainly Spain and Italy.
We mostly use ingredients like plantain, corn, coconut, avocado, long rice, beef, fish, and manioca. We use very simple techniques, and our desserts always have a homemade feel.
Corn is probably the ingredient we use most, and one of the most emblematic dishes is entirely made up of it – the arepa. It’s a kind of cornbread that’s eaten at breakfast, or lunch and dinner with soups and beef.
La casa del llano
Av Rio de Janeiro, Caracas, Distrito Capital
This restaurant offers 15 to 20 different types of stuffing for your arepa. I think an arepa is best after partying, so after 2am you see people all dressed up, with a huge arepa in their hands. My favourite is the Reina Pepeada (chicken avocado salad) which is made with gouda cheese. One of the most famous arepas is the La Llanera which is made with beef tenderloin, avocado, fresh cheese, and tomato.
El Mercado De Conejeros
Porlamar, Nueva Esparta
Street food is very popular in Venezuela and one of the best is our empanadas. When you go to a beach in Venezuela, locals will sell you amazing corn empanadas with different stuffings and sauces. One of the best places to have them is El Mercado De Conejeros (Conejeros Market). My favourite one has fresh cheese melted inside, but I also love the Pabellon Margariteno which is made of fish, banana plantain, black beans and fresh cheese.
#4: STEPHAN ZOISL
Chef’s Table by Stephan Zoisl
Hometown: Innsbruck, Austria
“Austria serves very hearty, rich , and uncomplicated food. Portions are big and there’s lots of meat . We don’t eat much fish, and our main carbohydrate is potato. Most important is Gastfreundlichkeit – a feeling of being welcomed at an eatery.
One of the most famous dishes is the Wiener Schnitzel – traditionally made with a thin slice of veal breaded and fried in a pan with hot oil or clarified butter. There’s also Leberkas-Semmel – a kind of “burger”. It’s a semmel (a round bun similar to a baguette) filled with leberkas (a meatloaf) and pickled cucumber with mustard. The average Austrian eats one a week, or more, but it is higher in calories than a Big Mac.”
Am Heumarkt 2A, 1030 Wien, Austria
This is the No 1 restaurant in Austria – they’re unbeatable. They’re constantly evolving, and they’re the driving force of Austrian gastronomy. The menu changes seasonally, and their bread trolley is absolutely stunning. Meierei, the milk and cheese bar below Steirereck is also very good. Try a Wiener Schnitzel, Gulasch or Beuscherl, and save space for desserts.
Prater 116, 1020 Wien, Austria
Best place for pork knuckles and ice-cold beer. Try a brez’n (a lye bread pretzel) with radish, horseradish, and mustard too. I literally have dreams of this place.
This story first appeared on straitstimes.com.