It’s been almost 18 years since Astrid & Gaston first opened its doors. Gaston Acurio says that when he arrived in France with Astrid Gutsche, the idea came to him to open a restaurant with French influence. His dream started to become reality after he received a loan of $45,000. After a few years and a lot of effort, he eventually found success.
In about 1998, the menu began to take on more Peruvian influence, introducing traditional dishes and regional ingredients. Outside recognition began to pour in and the Acurio’s empire began to expand.
Today, Astrid & Gaston is thriving. For the second consecutive year, it has been listed among the top 50 restaurants in the world, this year even jumping up 7 spots – to 35 – from 2011. While Gaston is the commander of this vessel, there are about 3,000 people that make the project possible.
The news program “Abre los ojos” recently interviewed headwaiter Ronald Rodriguez, Chef Robert Grau, and barman Raul Rosas. They were able to give a “behind the scenes” look at the day-to-day life of the team that makes the restaurant work.
“The restaurant has evolved and changed a lot since its beginning,” said Rodriguez, one of the employees who has been with the restaurant the longest. “The quality has gotten much better, and the menu as well. Before, the menu was clearly French, thanks to the influence that Gaston had received in Europe. But after some suggestions by a cousin of his, the menu was changed to include Peruvian dishes and ingredients.”
Grau then added that, at the beginning, it was difficult to adapt to the rhythm and philosophy of the restaurant.
“After years, you know how things work,” he said. “We also have a creative workshop that good things come out of. We discuss where the menu is going each season.”
Rosas also spoke up about his workplace.
“Astrid and Gaston are always aware of the service and of what we prepare and do. They don’t let even the smallest detail escape their attention. For example, on the bar each day we have to prepare something new to see if we can include it on the menu. They then take charge of trying it and deciding if we should move forward with it.”
They also said that, at the beginning, Gaston Acurio would even return a plate if it wasn’t exactly right.
That doesn’t happen anymore, the employees said. Now they understand the philosophy of quality and they know how to uphold it.