Photoessay: Pedro Miguel Schiaffino from Malabar, Lima

I had the opportunity recently to do some teaching (food photography, not cooking of course) with noted Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino from Ristorante Malabar, Lima at the World Gourmet Summit in Singapore. First off – he’s one of the nicest people I’ve met, with completely zero ego; that’s pretty darn unusual for a chef. Secondly, he has a hugely infectious enthusiasm for the native foods of Peru, most of which he has to trek into the jungle to find. Pedro says he trains locals to recognize edible plants and roots, but they subsequently tend to leave for food distributors who can pay more; to this he shrugs, and rationalizes it against anything that raises awareness of his country’s produce and helps the locals find regular employment being a good thing. As I said, one of the nicest people I’ve met. Oh, and he makes the most amazing ceviche, too. Enjoy, vicariously. MT

This set shot with a Leica S2 and 75/2.5 Summarit (people photos) and a Leica D-Lux 5 (food photos.)

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Ceviche, with a domestic Peruvian speciality algae – the green blobs. Difficult to describe the taste; a little like a gelatinized gherkin but not as sour.

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What looks like rocks…

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…are actually Peruvian root vegetables, meticulously tourneed, and covered in a local edible river clay mix that the natives use to aid digestion. Although the clay itself tastes like…well, dirt, it lends an interesting semi-roasted texture to the skin of the vegetables. I’m sure it probably gives you your RDI for most minerals, too.

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In their natural habitat, with sous-vided lamb finished on the pan. Pedro blends modern techniques – sous vide for instance – with traditional ingredients, like the clay.

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Dessert. Pisco sour sorbet, stewed melon and various flowers.

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Talking with the students after the meal.


  1. Hi Ming! I’m the organizer of the international design festival in Costa Rica and Pedro Miguel will be part of the event. I’m looking around for photos of him and yours are amazing! Is there a chance we can use them? We’ll credit for sure 🙂

  2. Thanks for the interesting article. Did you try 645PRO yet? An app that fixes some of the weaknesses you are mentioning.

    Best regards from the arctic circle


  3. Ming,

    Could you do a write up about your B&W conversions? I like what your doing and am curious about the process.

    Cheers and thanks.


  4. Steve Pool says:

    The pictures of Chef Schiaffino show enthusiasm and care. Wonderful in that he seems as amazed as the students. The food is starkly beautiful. I assume all photos made under the available light of the venue – did you shoot a custom WhiBal or let the camera auto-white balance? Thank you for your work.

  5. Zero Ego… you find so nice words, and everybody knows what you intend to say… but the best thing: you can see it in his eyes, even if you are 6.000 Miles away from Singapore. That is something your photos also are telling us. Great shots!

  6. Really enjoyed this post. Story and great photos.

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