Chef Diego Muñoz: Running the Show at Astrid y Gaston, Part 3


Chef Diego Muñoz.

This is the final installment in a three-part interview with chef Diego Muñoz. You can find the first installment here and the second installment here.

The Daily Meal: According to you, is the Latin American region at a disadvantage since, with the exception of Brazil, Michelin has not considered it? And is the World's 50 Best list filling that void?
Chef Diego Muñoz:
It will be a huge plus if we get the Michelin here because it will give us a lot more exposure, credibility, and shine the spotlight on our restaurants. The other day I was looking at how many Michelin-starred restaurants there are in New York and it will be wonderful if we had a guide like that in our country.

The 50 Best is great but strange sometimes because how it is compiled. It has been working very well for us and I take it as a huge compliment to be a part of it. We don't work for any lists but for our customers and ourselves. Now there are so many other lists out there and we don't lose our heads thinking too much about them.

Among all of the major chefs like the Roca brothers, Massimo Bottura, Andoni Aduriz, or even tourists that visit your kitchens, what are they most surprised by?
Everyone knows about our great gastronomy at all levels and the way we work, even then especially tourists are amazed at our level of work which is comparable to anywhere else in the world. The other thing is how we showcase our culture, our diverse produce, and they are also surprised by our multi-cultural cuisine. Since our country is built around so many varied cultures they have all contributed to our unique food culture. Of course we have a lot of techniques, flavors, and all that.

There is a shift towards more classic cooking around the world. Is that happening in your own region?
What I would like to use are old technologies in use 8,000 years or so ago. Our culture has a lot of history and I think instead of looking forward it is time to look back. We have a lot to learn about these ancient techniques that are still current. I want to start representing this technology in my cooking.

What is the cuisine of Diego Muñoz about these days?
I would say that like many other chefs, it is about produce and flavors, but I have my own way of tweaking and adding surprise twists. It is very fresh and sometimes simple like now I am cooking with the potatoes in season and celebrating the harvest season. My cooking is evolving constantly and moving in different directions.


Is your cooking becoming more Peruvian in essence now since earlier you had all these influences from El Bulli to Australia?
Exactly — I see that happening since earlier I didn't know as much about Peruvian cuisine as I have learnt after coming back to work here. Astrid y Gaston is actually my first experience of working in a Peruvian restaurant and especially one of the most important in the country. Consequently, I am changing and evolving in this learning process.