Peruvian maestro Gaston Acurio is considered to be one of the best chefs in the world. Some people like to figure out a way to rank things like dudes who prepare food. Apparently he’s no. 2 in the world behind Spaniard Ferran Adria. We’re not really sure what the variables are that enter into the ‘greatest chef’ equation, but suffice to say Gaston obviously possesses whatever talents those who do the ranking are searching for. Us? We would rather just spend five minutes with the guy, getting inside his mind. And singing Black Sabbath songs with him.
I wanted to ask you a little bit about the metal band that you were in…
Oh really? It was a rock band actually. They always try and increase the story, but it was actually a rock band.
Rock, rock. Definitely not a rap band. Not heavy metal.
I guess you need to edit that Wikipedia page then. What is the rock scene like in Peru?
Strong. Actually getting stronger. A lot of underground bands. A lot of them. We actually just did a burger bar in Peru and we have a stage and if you have a band that is already known, then you will never play here.
So you’re into underground music. What are some names of lesser known Peruvian bands?
Why is heavy metal so popular in Latin America? I’ve always wondered that.
I remember when I was a kid, I don’t know who it was that brought to school Ozzy Osbourne’s LPs. Black Sabbath, all that stuff. It’s true, I never understood why we were going to the beach, listening to Black Sabbath, all that stuff.
“Da da da da, da da, da da da da, oh yeah!”
Surfing with that was not like normal, no? It’s not the right balance, but it happened (laughs). Surfing like ‘woah’! With Black Sabbath? Okay. (laughs)
What’s on your iPod?
Everything. Classical. Portuguese music. Ozzy Osbourne. Music gives you a moment. It’s like food. One day you want ramen and maybe another day you want sushi and another day you want a fine dining experience. Music is the same. Some day you want a burger and some day you want a really good apple. So is music. Music and food are very similar sensory experiences.
Strange, that was my next question. Someone said that food is the new rock. Do you see those parallels?
When we interview somebody to work with us, the first thing we try and find out, is does he have a rhythm. Because if you don’t have the rhythm, you do not have the palette. It’s like, if you have the music inside, you will cook correctly.
There’s music in the kitchen, I guess.
You put in an ingredient, you take out an ingredient, like notes or chords. Music is the soul of cooking. It’s music.
Are chefs, then, the new rockstars?
I hope not. Our mission is to make these young kids not believe that. Because they will lose the essense of cooking, which is sharing.
Do you ever slaughter your own animals, because that would be pretty metal?
I do. I am a weak heart, but we do slaughter our own animals.
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Yesterday! A third stomach of a cow. At a place called Takashi, here in Manhattan. Which is a grill. The first stomach. Raw. Directly to the grill. Amazing flavor, a little bit tough. But amazing flavor. Maybe if you cooked it sou vee and then to the grill it would be a bit better. But you would lose some flavor. Life is not perfect, no?
Have you ever eaten spiders?
Spiders, yes. Ants! Actually I was at the restaurant of a friend of mine, Alex Atala, in Sao Paulo and one of the dishes on the tasting menu was three ants. Three. Tk tk tk, over a pineapple. Bup, bup, bup. Three
I wonder how much that costs? Three ants. Probably pretty decent upsell. Can’t imagine ants are very expensive wholesale.
It should cost, hmm, it should be very cheap, no?
Depends if they were organic or farm-raised or something.
(laughs) I believe they were wild ants. Not from a farm or nothing like that.