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The South American Chefs Bringing Their Delicious Cuisine Stateside

From ceviche to asado, the varied regional dishes of South America are experiencing a renaissance, thank in no small part to a group of ace chefs bringing these flavors north of the border

Alejandro Morales
Latest restaurant: Miami’s Quinto La Huella
The backstory: Morales has cooked in Spain and Italy, as well as in Northern California at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, where he forged his commitment to local, organic ingredients. This winter, he’s bringing simplified seafood to the first U.S. outpost of La Huella, where the rotating menu also features grilled meats, clay-roasted vegetables and seasonal salads.
He says: “Inspired by my experience [at Chez Panisse], we built relationships with our organic producers; my outlook on our cuisine started in the ground.”

Gastón Acurio
Latest restaurant: Chicago’s Tanta
The backstory: Since opening the acclaimed Astrid y Gastón in Lima in 1994, Gastón Acurio’s empire has expanded to more than 40 restaurants, both in Peru and abroad. This spring, Acurio published Peru: The Cookbook, a collection of recipes traversing his homeland’s culinary heritage. Meanwhile, at two-year-old Tanta, diners nosh on seafood ceviches, causas made from whipped potatoes and anticuchos, a popular street food served on skewers.
He says: “Every dish is a story about our Peruvian way of life.”

Mina Newman 
Homeland: Peru
Latest restaurant: New York’s Sen Sakana
The backstory: The Japanese name of this Midtown Manhattan restaurant means “1,000 Fish,” a reference to the fabled underwater creatures believed to swim between Peru and Japan. Here, the commingling of those two countries’ unique flavors is informed by the backgrounds of Newman and her Japanese-born co-chef Taku Nagai.
She says: “We directly incorporated our heritages and our favorite dishes into what we make at Sen Sakana. Ceviches, rice, cilantro and various levels of acidity are all very important aspects.”

Francis Mallmann
Latest restaurant: Miami’s Los Fuegos
The backstory: At his restaurants in Buenos Aires, the celebrated chef draws heavily from his Patagonian roots and the survivalist customs of the wandering gaucho. True to its name (“the fires” in English), Los Fuegos—in the EAST, Miami hotel—showcases live-fire cooking, from meats and seafood grilled over open flames and a la plancha to ember-roasted vegetables.
He says: “The gaucho lives in the wild and his life is ruled by a fire that moves with him as he camps. I admire the way gauchos use fire, sometimes as their only companion.”

José Andrés
Homeland: Spain
Latest restaurant: Washington, D.C.’s China Chilcano
The backstory: For his latest eatery, the chef looked to Peru’s unique fusion of indigenous flavors with those imported by Asian immigrants throughout the late 19th century. The resulting dishes include sudado de pescado, a traditional Peruvian fish stew, which Andrés prepares en papillote for an upscale, flavorful twist.
He says: “The possibilities with Peruvian cuisine are endless, and the mix with Japanese and Chinese influences just works so well and gives you a large palette of flavors and ingredients to play with.”