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.