An Interview with Peruvian Chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz: Part 3

In this final installment, the chef speaks to the role of women both in the culinary industry and his kitchens

Chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz.

You are building your Mater Iniciativa complex in the Sacred Valley near Cusco. When will it be ready, and will it have a restaurant as well?In about two years it will be complete and will have a small restaurant which will be the focus of the laboratory on the complex. We are going to call it the Registration for Mater and it will focus on acquisition of knowledge and information about products and inspiration to use these. Some of this information needs to be utilized in situ as it does not travel very well even as far as Lima from the original source. [pullquote: right]

For your upcoming casual restaurant NOS in Lima, your cuisine is described as global cuisine with elements from outside, but is it still concentrating on Peruvian flavors?
It is a little bit of everything since it will be a very informal place compared to Central. I say it’s global because it will not have this obsession with local products. It does have a Peruvian taste and many things you don't find in other parts of the world or regions in Peru. The menu will have ceviches and sandwiches etc.

Your new cookbook is coming out this fall for the home cook. What kind of recipes will be featured, and will they require Peruvian ingredients?
Yes in October, and truthfully it was a big challenge to put this together. We had to be very creative and not include complex recipes using ingredients people cannot source in other countries. We worked extensively on the recipes over four months and tried to use ingredients that can be found anywhere or we suggest alternatives for certain ingredients. The recipes look easy but it was a very difficult task, and I should add it has the spirit of my Lima London restaurant.

Next year we are doing a book with Phaidon and it focuses on Central. It is a very special project as we are writing based on our travels and expeditions and it is about the attitudes and altitudes of Peru. Essentially we are writing the book in a style similar to the way we do our menus. It is simple yet very complex at the same time, but we enjoying the process.

How many hours per day are you working, since you are doing so many different things?
From 8:00 in the morning to 1:00 the next morning, but I have no complaints. I am enjoying every moment of my work. I have a lot of gratitude for what I have now and I don't worry too much about me or my time at work. Working as a couple together with Pia I feel blessed and I also believe that my time is here and now!

Do you feel you have changed personally through your journey in the last two years?
Yeah I do, and though good and bad things happened, I am now working with a large group of people and since people are following our work I feel more responsible about what I do.  I am probably more mature in the way I see life and I have learned when to be calm and when to enjoy the moment and be happy.


This is the third installment in a three-part interview with chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz. You can find the first installment here, and the second here.