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A culinary voyage with an intrepid celebrity chef

By Moises Avila and Luis Jaime Cisneros in Lima, Peru ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-07-22 08:03:08

A culinary voyage with an intrepid celebrity chef

Virgilio Martinez prepares a plate. The Peruvian chef directs the Central restaurant in Lima, and makes it Latin America's top eatery and fourth globally by The World's 50 Best list. [Photo/AFP]

As a teenager on the streets of Lima, Virgilio Martinez aspired to a life of extremes, hoping to become a professional skateboarder.

When a fractured collarbone sidelined that dream, he swapped the skateboard for the cutting board.

In 2009, he opened his flagship restaurant Central in Lima - currently ranked as Latin America's top eatery and fourth globally by The World's 50 Best list.

"I've always had the urge to do intense things, and the first time I set foot in a kitchen, I realized I was going to be a chef," says Martinez, 38.

"The kitchen is our gym. This is where I train to improve."

His 28-year-old wife Pia, who gave birth to their son Diego Cristobal six months ago, runs Central's kitchen.

Martinez calls Pia his "leader in life and leader in the kitchen".

With his $120-per-person tasting menus, Martinez takes guests on a journey through Peru's most remote ecosystems.

In a cozy lounge with some 15 tables, diners can eat crabmeat served on marine rocks from 5 meters (16 feet) below sea level.

"You can be eating from a marine ecosystem or products that come from more than 4,000 meters above sea level," Martinez says.

He has expanded to own two restaurants in London and another is slated to open in Dubai.

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