Interview with Israel Laura

Israel Laura, as many South Americans, studied cooking in Spain, Europe. He went back to Peru rather by coincidence than by will, in a return that hoped to be temporary."Working as an executive chef I used to look at my colleagues at their 40s or 45s, who were practically living in the kitchen, without time for anything else. I decided I did not want the same for myself". Lima arrived then, with a "volver" (return) a bit more arid than Carlos Gardel's. After a while he ended up reencountering himself, and with him, his kitchen, creating the concept of "gourmet creole food"."Creole food used to be associated to big portions, cheap and of suspicious quality. On the other hand, gourmet sounds like small portions in big foreign dishes. I wanted to reconcile both". Thats how 550 restaurant was born, in which "food with soul" is served, according to Israel. In addition, he is currently opening a PiscoBar, to which he is now dedicated a 100 per cent, and of which he talks about with wide opened eyes.

PiscoBar's menu, like the year, is divided into seasons. This sustainable decision is common between almost every current cooking mind, which are already developing their menus around the season produce (thank God). This resolve is liberating and limiting at the same time, since it allows the menu to be continuously recreated, but the ingredients range is more reduced. Israel is of the opinion that having a fixed menu is synonymous of ties, so that's why he aimed for a blackboard at his restaurant. He doesn't want white tablecloth or fancy glasses either, but what he is looking for is to storm the lunch with a tasca (pub) feeling, more informal but not necessarily with less quality. "In Miraflores (Lima's district) you won't find anything like it. It's all crowded with tablecloths", he tells us, and it's true. It seems that Lima's fine cuisine is yet too polite.

Another relevant factor about PiscoBar is, obviously, the pisco. "There is no wine tradition in Peru like there is in Europe, here they just like borgoña, which is not so appropriate to have with food. The one and only local drink here is pisco." Hence his undercover decision to join pisco, which usually comes with party, to food, in a kind of harmonious experiment.

Besides restauranting, Israel has a TV program in which he cooks with different guests. He always tries to invite people who can teach or bring something new to the show, so that's why he has cooked with chefs but also with dentists or, as in the video below, nutritionists.
"Cooking, as far as it is an art, it is a need first", statement that reminds us that besides the one who cooks, there is the one who eats.