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Diary of an #SPYoungChef at Astrid y Gastón, Lima

Diary of an #SPYoungChef at Astrid y Gastón, Lima
From Fine Dining Lovers - April 13, 2018

The S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 finalist for Germany and Austria, Falko Wei, was in Lima for a work experience at Gastn Acurios restaurant Astrid y Gaston. Here is his diary about being an intern at one of the best restaurants in the world.

From Germany to Peru

What does it mean to work in one of the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants? S.Pellegrino gave me the unique opportunity to complete a three-day internship at Astrid y Gastn, in Lima (Peru). I was over the moon when I found out: it was the first time that I had worked outside my home. I was particularly excited about the typical national products that we dont have in Europe. Gastn Acurios restaurant is number 33 among the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants 2017 and number 7 among Latin Americas 50 Best Restaurants 2017. I could hardly believe that I would soon be standing in the kitchen there!

Welcome to Astridy Gastn!

On the first of my three working days, I received a very friendly greeting from the restaurant organiser and was shown around Astrid y Gastn. What impressed me most was how many seats the restaurant has: 220. Almost impossible by German standards. The last stop on the restaurant tour was the cold kitchenthis is where my internship began.

In total, I was able to familiarise myself with three posts at Astrid y Gastn: cold kitchen, production and hot kitchen. I gradually got to know the whole team while working at the various posts. I thus quickly felt at home in this unfamiliar environment. 45 chefs work at Astrid y Gastn. I had never been in a kitchen with so many chefs before. But no matter at which station I worked, every team member always welcomed me warmly and showed me everythingeven though they were often pressed for time.

To make sure everything ran smoothly with so many chefs and even more guests, there was a briefing with head chef Juan David Ocampo [top right in the image above] every morning at the start of work to prepare us for the day. He explained what in particular each department had to do and what attention should be paid to on that day. Then, it was straight into the kitchen to the cooker.

In the heart of the action

It was unbelievably impressive how focused and quickly my team colleagues worked. Completely different ingredients are used in cooking in Peru compared to in Germany. I noticed this particularly on my second working day when I was in production. All of the precision work, such as fillings for ravioli, is done at this post. Soups and sauces are also prepared here. This station was a great highlight for me because I was able to try everything out. It was really fun to discover all of the unfamiliar ingredients, aromas and flavours.

At this post, I prepared the famous Tigers Milk for the ceviche for the first time with the kitchen manager. What I would never have imagined: there are plenty of chillies in this dressing that grow in the Peruvian jungleand raw fish. This was also the day when I prepared a sea urchin for the first time. Sea urchins are about as large as a handball and are very spiky. You have to break them open with a knifealmost like a coconut. These are scraped out with a spoon and marinated raw. A great cold starterand very tasty!

Challenges: Piecework right down to the last detail

I had actually thought that the working process at Astrid y Gastn would be a little different to what I am used to in Germany. But I noticed right at the start that many things are very similar just much, much faster! Everything was as fast as lightning, every move was just right. In such a perfectly orchestrated team, it was not so easy to find my feet at the start. Everything in the kitchen is organised so meticulously. Everyone knows exactly when something is to be done after which working step. With so many chefs in one place, everything simply has to be organised clearlyand everyone must abide by the rules.

Outside the kitchen

The final in sight

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