For Jaime Pesaque being an ambassador of Peruvian food means two things; first is the honor of having been born in a country that has huge culinary potential. “Peru has one of the riches pantry’s in the world which has not been completely explored,” he says; and second, because he was born in Peru, Jaime says it’s his duty to create a local cuisine, because of patriotism and because of an authentic passion for his homeland.
When he spoke to us about the origin of his career, he smiled, and immediately told us about Epifanía, a girl that used to help at his parents’ house. He became her assistant at an early age and always loved helping her. She was the one who taught him his first few recipes. At age 15, and thanks to the support of his parents, he was able to take special cooking lessons with a chef from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and that was the first time he received formal training in the kitchen.
Each thing he’s done in his life, or in each place he’s been, has given him both positive and negative experiences. For example, in Italy he learned to love products; he always had, but in that country, he learned the passion, respect and patience for the products, for each recipe, and every ingredient. In Spain, he learned the techniques and his creativity blossomed, and in the United States, he was able to bring all of his learning together to see his total development and potential as a Chef.
Jaime has been able to adapt the ingredients of the Peruvian kitchen to diverse worldwide tastes perfectly, because he always makes sure to make the ingredients and recipes meet the culture he wants to reach. He makes it a point to get to know their markets, products, the characteristics of their ingredients and, of course, the preferences of his clientele. For example, at one of his restaurants in Brickell, “SuViche”, it has been easier because it is the Latin world, and he honestly admits he has been able to introduce flavors from Peru without major changes.
However, it has been very different at “Raymi” in New York. Jaime has had to adapt the Peruvian recipes, lower their flavor intensity, go more avant-garde, which is the same thing he does for “Punta del Este”. Now he is getting ready for his seventh restaurant in Hong Kong.
‘Tiger milk’ for ceviche and yellow peppers are the only two ingredients that are used in all of his restaurants; they comprise the DNA of his recipes, and of course, his success.
When we asked Jaime which dish from his rich, extensive menu I shouldn’t miss, he said to me smiling, “I recommend you visit several times because you have to try everything, but definitely Ceviche Chifa, is the dish you shouldn’t miss, in it you’ll find yellow peppers and all of the flavors from a traditional Peruvian kitchen.” In respect of the season, Jaime customarily works with mushrooms, because now is when the rains and lower temperatures begin, plus he always prepares covered rice, cooked in purple corn juice with turkey ragu, regional mushrooms and raisins.
As a drink with the meal, he recommends a sparkling chilcano, a sparkling apple and cinnamon pisco sour. “These dishes simply taste like Christmas”.
Jaime, in a very fun way, told me the two things that made his life rich: “I can tell you that gastronomy is the first, and my two and a half year old is the second.”
His food is so popular that many celebrities, ready to savor his dishes, frequent each one of his restaurants. People like Mario Vargas Llosa, Nadine Heredia (First lady of Peru) Susana Jiménez, Naomi Campbell, and many well-known athletes. Jaime shows his concern not only for the flavor, creativity and attention, but also for the experience for all of his customers. As he explains it, “I don’t sell food, I create an unforgettable flavor experience.”