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INTERVIEW: Claudio Cardoso and Virgilio Martinez of SUSHISAMBA and LIMA

INTERVIEW: Claudio Cardoso and Virgilio Martinez of SUSHISAMBA and LIMA L-R SUSHISAMBA's Claudio Cardoso and LIMA London's Virgilio Martinez

What do you get when you put teams from behind two international highly acclaimed restaurants together in a kitchen that offers its diners unparalleled, 360-degree views of the city? An incredible evening of culinary brilliance, that’s what.

In an exclusive collaboration for one night only on 16th April, Executive Chef Claudio Cardoso of SUSHISAMBA is going to share his kitchen with world-renowned chef Virgilio Martinez of Michelin Star LIMA London and Central in Lima, Peru to create an amazing 8-course taster menu which will reflects their shared respect of Peruvian cuisine and commitment to gastronomic creativity.

Cardoso’s expertise comes from experience in many different countries and restaurants all around the world such as Il Mercato in Portugal. Martinez’s CV is equally as impressive — the Peruvian chef and restaurateur is known for his use of applying modern cooking techniques to indigenous Peruvian ingredients and his flagship restaurant, Central in Peru nabbed the top spot on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2014.

With such a fine-dining pedigree between them, one can only expect this night to be ramped up to rock-star levels. Moreover, you don’t need to spend any pesos to taste such exquisite cuisine — you’ll be teleported to Peru instantly, shaking up any expectations you had about Peruvian cuisine.

We spoke with both Claudio and Virgilio about the rare and exciting collaboration and what it means to them.

 

Mae-Terra-SushiSamba-2206-HighRes INTERVIEW: Claudio Cardoso and Virgilio Martinez of SUSHISAMBA and LIMA

SUSHISAMBA’s Mae Terra

The Metropolist: This is a very exciting collaboration — is it something that’s been in the pipeline for a while?

Virgilio Martinez: This is actually the first time we are doing something like this together. We have been friends for a long time, and we have spent time together, but oddly, we never thought of cooking together, which is why this event makes it very special for both teams. We share ideas and recipes, but there are a lot of differences in the food we make which is great and make it much more interesting as an experience for guests.

Claudio Cardoso: This is a great collaboration that we’ve been looking forward to for some time, working with such creative individuals is really exciting for the team. For me, Virgilio is the chef that is breaking all boundaries and bringing so much new produce to our culinary scene right now. I’m super excited to see the results of this Peruvian focused dinner.

TM: Virgilio, you have quite the amazing talent for making sense of such rare, ancient edibles that are found in the depths of the Peruvian rainforests and mountains… and your menus are conceptualised based on these products. Can you tell us a bit about the “Peru at New Heights” menu with SUSHISAMBA and what you wanted to really explore with it?

VM: What I do in Peru is difficult to replicate if you are not in Peruvian territory. I mean, the products we use here are rare and are also very difficult to transport (for keeping its essence and quality), but it would make no sense to cook with them abroad. So we leave that only for Peru…

In the meantime, the food we do at Lima in London, I like to think is a great example of how Peruvian cuisine can travel. Adaptation is a big part of modern Peruvian cuisine, and that is what we do.

TM: Virgilio, with all your awards [a Michelin star and top rankings] is it daunting with the expectations that come with such status? 

VM: It is important to stay focused. We have to keep working hard, inspired, and stay connected to our world — innovation is key for us. To do this, we take regular exploration trips to unusual places to discover new ingredients, techniques and stories.

And I believe that the recognition is not just for one person, one restaurant —it is for our products, our producers, our own environment, that let us transform things. We respect our principles, and keep our integrity.

TM: Virgilio, what’s your take on the Peruvian cuisine and its influence on the dining scene in London? 

VM: Peruvian cuisine promotes diversity in London’s dining scene, no doubt about it. There is diversity in flavours, colours, ideas. Also, it is an opening for Latin America that may have been perceived as too far away for too long.

Also, in Peru, we feel very close to nature, and not just geographically.  That closeness allows us to get outside more, enjoy more simple things, and gather food ingredients from different places. It’s exciting we can bring that to London.

TM: Virgilio, aside from your restaurants, have you got any other notable favourites when you venture outside Central in Lima?

VM: Of course, many!… I love La Picanteria in Surquillo, El Mercado, and La Mar in Av. La Mar, Miraflores, casual places where seafood is amazing. And also coffee shops like Bisetti in Barranco, or El Café de Harry in Av. Armendariz, Peru pa tí. 

Sushisamba-Interior INTERVIEW: Claudio Cardoso and Virgilio Martinez of SUSHISAMBA and LIMA

SUSHISAMBA interior

TM: Claudio, you’ve always been captivated by food and have worked in many restaurants, learning to appreciate cross-cultural cuisines and flavours. How do you continue to get your influences/inspirations?

CC: Mainly from nature and its beauty.  The mountain shapes, the colours of the sky, the smell of the ocean and the forests — everything that we can sometimes miss when we are not paying attention. I look at things differently and I’m very creative, there are no rules today to what chefs can put their hands on — and that’s what I do.

TM: Claudio, your dishes are very involved and complex, yet how do you manage to keep the dishes so simple and effective?

CC: Ha ha, well, I like to complicate dishes so this can be a struggle for me at times! With such a fast paced restaurant, we need to simplify as much as we can, so we don’t impact guest waiting times or experiences. That is something that can be very challenging but as a team at SUSHISAMBA we manage to make it happen working together

TM: Claudio, with so many unique ingredients that you use, is there one that you tend to be biased to?

CC: Usually the most basic ones are the ingredients I love the most, right now I’m into carrots like crazy.

TM: Claudio, where is your favourite dining destination, and why? 

CC: Definitely Blue Hill at Stone Barns in upstate New York by Chef Dan Barber. I could give you 1000 reasons why, but very simply I had the best experience of food at their farm and restaurant that made me question why simplicity doesn’t always prevail in regards to a dining experience, they are the best in every aspect of a meal.

TM: Claudio and Virgilio, it has been a pleasure chatting with you. But we have one more question….favourite dish on tonight’s menu and why?

CC: I would say the Mãe Terra (tiny seasonal vegetables, tofu, truffle, beetroot, yuzu, sesame) — this dish means a lot to me.  It brings great memories and takes me back in time to a very special time and place. Creating and being inspired is my motive to continue doing what I love, making people feel special and giving them something memorable.

VM: The Toro Tiraditos will be the main event for me (yuzu soy, wasabi pickle, black truffle, yuzu caviar).

 

SUSHISAMBA & LIMA Collaboration will take place at SUSHISAMBA on the 38th floor of 110 Bishopsgate on Saturday 16th April.

Tickets cost £150 per person, including an eight course-sharing menu with a Peruvian-style welcome cocktail plus live entertainment. 

Call 0203 640 7330 or email reservationslondon@sushisamba.com with LIMA in the subject line to book.

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