The Inspiring Flavors of The Amazon


Virgilio Martínez and his team in Peru, including wife Pia Leon and sister Malena Martínez, are on a continued path of development as they work to deepen their already expansive knowledge of the Peruvian country and the rich ingredients, culture and history it offers them.

Martinez’s Central restaurant is famous for presenting diners with a delicious selection of Peruvian ingredients sourced from different ecosystems, even altitudes across the country. However, this ever changing Peruvian pantry requires constant research, lots of travel, time to analyze and understand new finds in terms of taste but also in terms of their historical, cultural and social significance. All this is before there’s been any large scale effort to actually collect ingredients, it’s a huge undertaking that requires a dedicated team in place before ingredients are even introduced to the kitchen.

Almost all of this research is carried out by Mater Iniciativa. Fronted by Malena Martinez, this is the arm of the organization that feeds the Central restaurant with new flavors, ideas and the heavy-duty research required for the type of work Martinez and Leon undertake in the kitchen. This research has been amplified recently with the opening of the team’s newest restaurant, Mil Moray, in Moray and the soon to be relocated Central restaurant in Lima.

The research expeditions undertaken by Mater Iniciativa take the team to the highest mountains and deepest depths of the country, and in the video below, you can see one of the latest explorations undertaken by Mater Iniciativa and a group including Andoni Luis Aduriz from the Mugaritz restaurant.

The group enter the Tambopata National Reserve in the Amazon Rainforest, an awe inspiring location and video that shows just how deep the research team want to go in unearthing new ingredients and understanding how to document and communicate them. It’s a serious undertaking, as Malena Martinez explains:“This is real, not for show. We are seriously trying to create a new language to help us understand biodiversity.”

The latest expedition, which you can watch below, will form the foundation of Momento 2018 - a cross-disciplinary congress started in 2017 that sees cooks, anthropologists, biologists, botanists, artist and others meet to discuss a range of topics. This year, the meeting will take place in middle of the Amazon with conversations centered on biodiversity and what the team describe as “fundamental topics in this different and mysterious world”.