by Andreas Fransius, Peace Is Profitable Contributor
A few weeks ago, we witnessed how the Ethiopian firm soleRebels has set out to create a powerful global brand by building on distinctive local strengths. An entrepreneur from the other side of the globe, Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio, has arguably taken this idea to the next level by building a national brand to promote a whole sector of the economy. The fact that Peruvian food can act as a powerful aphrodisiac also makes this a highly sensual profit-making endeavor.
Gastón Acurio initially embarked on his culinary project solely due to his love of cooking. After finishing his gastronomical training in Paris he subsequently opted to return to his native Peru to start a new restaurant, Astrid & Gastón, which was an early innovator of Peruvian haute cuisine. The restaurant, which he opened with his wife Astrid, has repeatedly been ranked as one of the top 50 in the world, and has since opened up in a number of major cities around the world.
With the initial success of his restaurant, Acurio discovered that his project had the potential to achieve more than flavorful food and satisfied customers. His goal therefore became to make the world a better place by bringing Peruvian food to the world. His decision to expand abroad therefore stemmed from a desire to open the world’s eyes to the splendors of Peruvian cooking.
Even more importantly, expansion was a way of making Peruvians proud of their rich cultural heritage within gastronomy. While Peru has enjoyed an economic bonanza in recent years, this has mostly been built on the back of commodity exports, such as copper and silver. Acurio therefore wanted to reawaken Peruvians’ awareness of the country’s cultural treasures. As in many Latin American countries, international recognition was a necessary step to make the local population aware of their own national treasures.
In a recent interview, Acurio spells out his vision for his restaurants to become embassies for Peru, where young chefs can make their mark and introduce the world to Andean haute cuisine. As part of his project to bring this message out he has recently launched a documentary about Peru’s gastronomical revolution under the banner of PeruSabe together with the world-renowned Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.
Acurio’s goal is now to use Peruvian cuisine to promote social inclusion and to help young Peruvians to become renowned chefs. A tangible result of his work is that there are currently some 80,000 Peruvians studying to be chefs, and Acurio is just getting started.