Peruvian Star Chef Virgilio Martinez’s Latest Venture Goes Casual
Nos takes the chef from Michelin stars in London to casual dining in Lima.
Superstar Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez has done what few rock star chefs do when they’re cresting the wave of fame and fortune: he’s downscaled. His latest venture, NOS, which opened in Lima in late summer, showcases Martinez’s skill with local ingredients and colorful mash-ups in a casual dining experience that won’t break the bank.
This is Martinez’s first foray into the informal restaurant world. Central, Martinez’ flagship Lima restaurant, has collected all sorts of accolades (including top spot two years running at the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants awards) for its use of Peruvian flora and fauna in creating hyper-creative dishes that pay tribute to Peru’s traditions. Lima London was awarded a Michelin star in 2013, the first given to a Peruvian restaurant in Europe.
NOS, by contrast, has a relaxed atmosphere sort of like a fancy diner—no jackets required—and the menu has more of an international influence, although dishes like marinated chicken in a Peruvian yellow chili pepper stew with lemongrass vinaigrette, or a salmon tartare served with fries made from native potatoes, still owe a debt to local traditions.
“As cooks, we continuously have a need to create and we have lots of curiosity. We are always in the search of new things,” Martinez says. “NOS is a place where I can create natural, simple, and spontaneous dishes that are different from what I do in Central.”
The space is similarly scaled down, with unadorned tables and booths, industrial drop pendant lighting, and an open kitchen. For a cavernous space the tables feel intimate, and the focus will be on your dinner companions and what’s on the plate. Which, one gathers, is exactly what Martinez wants.
Nell McShane Wulfhart is based in Uruguay, and writes about South America for Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @nellmwulfhart.