By Phil Vettel
3:41 PM CST, January 15, 2013
Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio is a rock star. And he's coming to Chicago.
Acurio is a national hero in Peru, and a cultural ambassador for the food of his native land. His signature restaurant, Astrid Y Gaston, is on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list. He made a documentary on Peruvian cuisine (from the perspective of its social impact) with his friend, Ferran Adria. His global empire of 32 restaurants is a big part of the reason some prognosticators think that Peruvian is the food world's next big cuisine.
And -- did I mention this before? -- he's coming to Chicago.
All that construction going on at 118 W. Grand Avenue (former home to Video Replay) is preparation for Tanta, the restaurant Acurio will open sometime this spring. This will be Acurio's third Tanta, following locations in Lima and Barcelona.
I went out to San Francisco to eat at La Mar, one of Acurio's two U.S. operations (a second La Mar is in New York), and feasted on tiraditos, ceviches, causas (proteins placed atop mashed potatoes) and anticuchos (grilled skewers). Very traditional, but refined, utterly fresh and delicious. And the bar makes a helluva pisco sour.
Chicago's Peruvian restaurant scene is about to get a whole lot bigger.