- The jury of the international Eckart Witzigmann Award (ECKART) has announced another winner for this year’s award ceremony: The ECKART 2018 for “Innovation” goes to Astrid Gutsche and Gastón Acurio. The award will be presented at the ECKART Gala in New York in June.
“Astrid Gutsche and Gastón Acurio are no ordinary restaurateurs: By boldly challenging haute cuisine with local ingredients and recipes, the husband-and-wife team are revolutionising the culinary world of an entire country. Gastón Acurio focuses on the fundamental values of cooking: quality, creativity and regionality. His social commitment, which aims to use culinary creations to develop his country into a brand and lead it to prosperity, merits the award for the ‘Innovation’,” explained Eckart Witzigmann, announcing the jury’s decision.
The success story began in 1994 with the opening of the couple’s first restaurant in Lima. “Astrid y Gastón” served French cuisine bearing the signature of chef Gastón Acurio, who, at that time, regarded haute cuisine as the measure of all things – until his wife, Astrid, reacquainted him with the treasures of local cooking and changed her partner’s thinking. Ultimately, Acurio not only introduced haute cuisine to Peru, but also brought the culinary diversity of Peru to award-winning dining. Since 1999, when his wife opened his eyes to local cooking styles, Acurio has embraced his native culture and experimented with local ingredients to create his own recipe for success. Since then, both have sought out interesting new products for original and creative dishes that have been exported from distant Peru and brought its flavours to the world. Astrid Gutsche and Gastón Acurio launched a gastro-cultural revolution that has fundamentally changed Peru.
Today, the couple presides over the kitchen at the Casa Moreyra in Lima, an impressive 18th century San Isidro residence, which “Astrid y Gastón” moved to in 2014. They now own 50 restaurants and businesses worldwide.
As entrepreneurs, Astrid Gutsche and Gastón Acurio recognised their social and environmental responsibility at an early stage: In 2007, they opened Peru’s first subsidized culinary school with low, almost symbolic, fees in a low-income, humble district of Lima to provide up-and-coming chefs from the area with an opportunity for professional success. The use of regional products in their exceptional dishes shows a deep understanding of sustainability and not only sends a strong signal for Peru, but also for responsible use of resources at global level.