By Nell McShane Wulfhart
September 03, 2015
Credit: Courtesy of Maido

More and more South American chefs are popping up on “best of” lists lately, as cities like Lima, Peru, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Bogotà, Colombia, explode with an abundance of amazing new restaurants. Here are four rising stars whose names you’ll be hearing a lot more in the near future, along with their restaurants that should go, immediately, on your bucket list.

Gonzalo Aramburu; Buenos Aires, Argentina

With time working for Charlie Trotter, Daniel Boulud and Joël Robuchon under his belt, Gonzalo Aramburu is more than deserving of all the attention he’s attracting in Buenos Aires right now. There’s his upscale, tasting-menu-only homage to molecular gastronomy, Aramburu; then, the more casual, bistro-style restaurant called Aramburu Bis. It offers multi-course lunches and a menu of imaginative, seasonal dishes. While Aramburu presents jars of smoke and martini glasses filled with poached egg and croissant foam, Aramburu Bis executes classics like slow-cooked lamb and shoestring fries with aplomb.

Where to Eat: Flush with cash? Try Aramburu. More budget-conscious? Then go with Aramburu Bis.

Mitsuharu Tsumura; Lima, Peru

To understand the genius of Mitsuharu Tsumura, it’s first necessary to understand Nikkei food. It’s a combination of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine that’s been growing since Japanese emigration to Peru began in the 19th century. Tsumura, Lima-born and of Peruvian-Japanese descent, is the king of upmarket Nikkei cuisine: his restaurant, Maido (pictured), produces incredibly inventive dishes like seafood sashimi seasoned with lemon, garlic, soy sauce and sweet potato; or a maki roll stuffed with breaded pork and toasted plantain with a creole sauce. If you’ve never had Nikkei food before, this is the only restaurant you need to try.

Where to eat: Maido.

Eduardo Martinez; Bogotà, Colombia

Exploration of the world of traditional Colombian ingredients is the signature of Bogota-born Eduardo Martinez, whose trendy Mini-mal is one of the restaurants leading the “nuevo Colombiano” cuisine revolution. Martinez puts together ingredients like grouper and luyo, an acidic local fruit, or tiger shrimp coated in cassava and drizzled with maracuya and green chili sauce. Self-taught, the chef is on a mission to bring flavors from the Pacific to the capital, and the result is something very inventive and very modern. The creative cocktails don’t hurt either.

Where to eat: Mini-mal.

Carolina Erazo; Santiago, Chile

In a part of the world that’s less than renowned for its proportion of female chefs, Carolina Erazo stands out. Not only did she win the first Latin American edition of Top Chef, she’s also the talent behind Donosti, one of the top tables in Santiago, Chile. Donosti specializes in cuisine from San Sebastian, but Erazo adds her own innovative spin on Basque recipes, incorporating new flavors and textures into well-known seafood and steak dishes. Her creativity translates to the plate, which are each miniautre works of art.

Where to eat: Donosti.

Nell McShane Wulfhart is based in Uruguay, and writes about South America for Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @nellmwulfhart.