Mil - Virgilio Martínez’s Groundbreaking New Restaurant
Virgilio Martínez knows his new restaurant isn’t for everyone. It’s a journey to get to Mil, located near the Inca ruin of Moray above Cuzco, Peru, and the food will be unfamiliar to most.
The restaurant highlights “ancestral cuisines” of the Andes and, like Central, the breakout Lima restaurant that landed Martínez on the World’s 50 Best List and in the international spotlight, it will have a menu inspired by the altitude at which ingredients grow. But where Central takes diners through different altitudes course by course, Mil is focused on what can grow at the towering height of its own setting 3,500m above sea level.
“We are quite limited, even in a place where there’s a lot of biodiversity,” says Martínez. For example, the ocean is off-limits; instead, he and his team are sourcing fish from high-altitude lakes. Coffee, cacao, root vegetables, various meats and legumes, and Andean grains like quinoa, on the other hand, all pass muster. “We don’t just want to cook well and cook farm-to-table,” Martínez says. “It goes way beyond that.”
While the multi-course meal unfolds during the day, it feels off to call it “lunch.” Starting service at 1 p.m. allows guests to explore the grounds and take in the breathtaking sight of the Moray, terraced Inca ruins where the original inspiration for the restaurant began. To put it simply: “At night you can’t see the crops, the fields, or the view.”
Mil will also reveal more about the restaurant group’s culinary research arm. Mater Iniciativa’s Cuzco home base at Mil has in many ways been the catalyst for the project. The team, led by Malena Martínez, has been working with biologists, botanists, and an anthropologist to learn more about Andean food culture and science. As Mater Iniciativa continues its work, the plan is to invite students and researchers from around the world to learn alongside the team, as well as continue to host events that bring together chefs and specialists.
It’s plenty to keep Virgilio Martínez busy, but that’s not all he has in store. He and Pia León, his wife and co-chef at Central, are in process of opening a new restaurant called Kjolle in Lima — and reinventing Central. Both projects are still very much in process, but Martínez thinks they’ll materialize in June.
Content courtesy of Eater