Arguably the best chef in South America — and the only one from the continent to land in the top 20 — Virgilio Martínez brings cuisines from around the planet to the Peruvian capital at his restaurant, Central.
As a child, Martinez loved to sample dishes from other cultures, enjoying Chinese, Japanese and Italian dishes found in the city’s multicultural restaurants. But Peru didn’t offer culinary schools, so Martinez had to travel to discover his passion. He began cooking in Canada and loved it so much that he ignored his law degree and enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu’s London location. Then, he traveled again, sampling new cuisines across Europe and Asia.
After a decade, Martinez returned to Peru, cooking for Gaston Acurio’s restaurant. When he set off on his own in 2010, he created a menu of Peruvian and Pacific Ocean-inspired dishes. Although he cannot earn a Michelin star in Peru (yet), he opened his second restaurant, Lima, in London, which did.