Gastón Acurio is a chef, writer, businessman and promoter of the Peruvian culinary arts. In 2005, he was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by America Economía Magazine – the most prominent and influential business magazine in South America. With 33 restaurants in 12 countries, the Acurio Organization is leading the Peruvian culinary revolution.
During the late 1980s, Acurio attended law school. However, his passion for food proved stronger, so he left law school to begin studying culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. During his time in Paris, Acurio met his German-born wife Astrid. In 1994, they opened the restaurant Astrid & Gastón in Lima, Peru, establishing it as one of the first restaurants of Peruvian haute cuisine in the world. The restaurant originally was very French-orientated due to Acurio’s classical French training, however he soon found himself experimenting with Peruvian ingredients and taking inspiration from local traditions. In 2012, Astrid & Gastón was included at number 35 in San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and in 2013, climbed to number 14.
In 2009, Acurio received the international award of “Prince Claus of Holland” in the category “Collective Memories and Journalism” for his significant contribution in the field of culture and development. That same year, within the framework of Madrid Fusión, he was honored by the panel for defending the biodiversity of Peru and Latin America. He also served as keynote speaker for the Madrid Fusión 2011 conference.
Lima, Peru has become the gastronomical capital of South America, and host of Mistura, the greatest culinary festival in the region. Acurio led the festival’s organization for three years as president of APEGA (the Peruvian Gastronomy Society). Currently, he is still involved in the organization as a member of the board. His philanthropy work extends to being the primary supporter of the culinary instruction institution, Pachacutec School of Cuisine, located in one of the poorest areas in Lima. Pachacutec provides underprivileged youth across the region a place to study their craft under industry-leading professionals as they pursue their culinary careers.
Acurio has authored and published 20 national best-sellers in Peru. His latest publication 500 Años de Fusión (500 Years of Fusion) was voted the best cookbook worldwide at the 2008 Gourmand “World Cookbook Awards.”
Chef Jesus Delgado was born and raised in Peru, one of the worlds’ most diverse and eclectic food cultures. As a child, his family owned and operated a small market in Lima. This early exposure to Peru’s unique melting pot of culture and cuisine fueled Delgado to become a chef and do his part to share his homeland’s cuisine abroad. As Executive Chef of Tanta in Chicago, Delgado focuses on dishes iconic to Peru, such as his specialty of cebiche, in addition to a number of lesser-known plates that showcase the multi-culturalism and biodiversity of the country.
Delgado first studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Lima before transferring to the University of San Martin De Porres (USMP) where he obtained a degree in Hospitality and Tourism in 2002. Upon graduation, Delgado worked at various Chinese and Japanese-influenced restaurants in Lima before landing at well-known South American Chef Gaston Acurio’s La Mar Cebicheria in 2007 as a line cook.
By 2011, Delgado had worked his way up to Cebiche Chef. At La Mar, Delgado excelled behind the cebiche bar, creating a diverse menu of traditional and unexpected cebiche and other cold dishes, cementing his reputation for showcasing Peruvian seafood in unique and unexpected ways.
Tanta is dedicated to sharing the flavors and culture of Peru with Chicago, serving authentic Peruvian dishes and beverages in an approachable, casual and colorful downtown setting. This fresh and vibrant restaurant is the next step in the evolution of the Acurio Restaurantes concepts, created specifically for Chicago with the city’s residents and their tastes in mind.
The menu at Tanta (created in collaboration between Acurio and Delgado) will take guests on a voyage through Peru through its food. From the Pacific Ocean, through the Andes, to the desert, to the Amazon, Tanta will celebrate the diverse landscape and ethnicities that make up Peru’s culture. Emigrants from China, Japan, Spain, and Italy melded their respective dishes with the native Peruvian cuisine to create the unique melting pot of Peruvian cooking that keeps boiling to this day, which Delgado and the Tanta team is committed to highlighting in Chicago.