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Chefs empowering Peru: María Zuñiga

Ericka La Madrid

Chef and owner of Tradicion Barranquina, María Zuñiga shares her passion for Peru’s gastronomy with food tour operator Ericka La Madrid.

Chefs empowering Peru: María Zuñiga

(Photo: Living in Peru/Agnes Rivera)

This interview is part of a five-part series included in the March edition of An Extra Shot. To read the entire series and other articles, download your e-version today.

Inspiration can come from many different sources: from the people we love, from our teachers and mentors, or maybe something that surrounds our everyday lives. For these top female chefs, the love that they put into their dishes is inspired by the generations before them, rescuing flavors from years ago and making them new again. It is this love that drives them to work hard each and every day to transform these dishes into new indescribable levels.

These top chefs are also teaching a new generation of chefs to further Peru’s place at the world’s culinary table. So, it is with great pride that we recognize these women for their culinary achievements and contributions to Peru.

Maria, when did you begin cooking?

I was raised amongs pots and pans! I would have to say around 1968 is when I got my first taste of working in the kitchen. My mother had received an order to cater for a company but due to a family emergency was unable to fulfill it herself. The responsibility landed on me and, despite having some fear, I was able to satisfy the customers with what I served up. From there this inclination to cook was born, and it has become the most beautiful profession in the universe for me.

What do you think of the woman’s role in professional kitchens today?

The involvement of women in Peruvian cuisine dates back to ancient times, the motivation to succeed in raising their children and prosper were the pillars that helped our women to work in the kitchen: first at home then as a business. The Peruvian woman is a fighter … a lot was identified through women in our time. Legacies of old kitchens, which we appreciate and yearn for now, we owe exclusively to the women whose love and perseverance managed to conquer the palates of a thirsty village of flavors and aromas.

What is one of your favorite seasonal ingredients this time of year?

Besides our amazing range of fruits, I would have to say all the varieties of colorful quinoa. It can be used to prepare humitas and tamales, salads, pastels, and even desserts such as suspiro de quinoa and others.

To enjoy the rest of the interviews, download your e-version of An Extra Shot here. It’s free.

Ericka La Madrid is owner and operator of Delectable Peru. For more information about Delectable Peru and their tours visit the website here.

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