By Mark Smith
Kjolle, Lima’s Hottest New Restaurant
Kjolle has rapidly become the new must-try restaurant for foodies in Lima, Peru.
Kjolle is the project of chef Pia Leon, voted the Best Female Chef in Latin America by the 2018 World’s 50 Best restaurant awards. She is married to Virgilio Martinez, one of the most celebrated chefs in the world thanks to the success of his restaurant Central.
Leon worked alongside Martinez for 10 years in Central before stepping out alone. When she moved, various of her staff moved with her. However, they did not have to go far. The two restaurants are next door to each other.
Part of a Broader Social Initiative
Both restaurants – Kjolle and Central – are part of a bigger project, the Mater Initiative, which was started by Martinez to revive the diversity of Peruvian food. As one of the world’s megadiverse countries, Peru has everything from rich coastal waters and dry coastal desert to 6000-meter mountains and humid tropical jungle. Its variety of ecosystems, temperature ranges, and altitudinal ranges create a wide range of growing conditions. In turn, this creates a large diversity of ingredients.
Martinez and Leon take these ingredients and present them to the world in a series of innovative dishes and drinks. By doing so they hope to preserve these ingredients from disappearing. And provide a sustainable means of income for local communities.
A Diversity of Peruvian Flavors
While Central presents food according to one Peruvian ecosystem at a time, arranging their menu by altitude, Kjolle is more than happy to mix food from different ecosystems. And the results are fantastic. It is half the price of Central and you can get a table without having to book three months in advance. Choose the tasting menu for USD 120. Or go a la carte with starters for USD 15 and mains for USD 25.
A Family-Run Project That Feels Like Home
In addition to serving as the headquarters for Kjolle and Central, the Matter Initiative also houses a cocktail bar called Mayo. These establishments aren’t the only neighbors either. The power couple Leon and Martinez keep their home in the same complex, to allow them to work and bring up their son at the same time.
So, if you want to taste the best of Peru, beautifully presented by a company with a conscience, try Kjolle. You can tell by the smiles of the staff, that they love what they do. And you will too.