A Shoreditch Christmas by way of Peru: How chef Vito Reyes blends Peru and London during the festive season
Traditional Christmas menus can be found at restaurants all over London this time of year. At Andina, a Peruvian restaurant in Shoreditch, chef Vito Reyes creates dishes that are inspired by the cuisine and produce of the Andes mountains and has created a festive menu that blends this cuisine and the festive flavours that guests expect this time of year.
The ‘Andina Christmas’ menu is a set menu of family style dishes that reflect the communal nature of the season and giving guests traditional Peruvian flavours that they may not have had before. For chef Reyes, the menu is an extension of his travels to Peru and some of the dishes that he had during his time there.
Below, chef Reyes talks about his festive menu and how he was able to balance his love of Peruvian food and culture and make it work for the Shoreditch neighbourhood.
How would you describe the menu and dining atmosphere of Andina?
Andina is a fresh and welcoming restaurant with a regularly changing menu and a relaxed vibe, Andina focuses on colourful, delicious dishes influenced by the Peruvian mountain region, designed to surprise and delight from our light and bright Shoreditch home.
What is the inspiration behind the Christmas menu?
Our inspiration is all about taking our guests on a journey. On our Christmas menu they can sample dishes like Ode To Corn, with its purple corn humita steamed dumpling, choclo corn succotash, sweet kale pesto and crushed cancha corn, that shows the diversity of corn in the Andean mountains. Guests will also get to try Salmón, our salmon schnitzel with olluco potato, relish of shallot, limo chilli, apple cider vinegar, roasted fennel, bitter lemon gelée. This Salmon dish is inspired by Trucha Frita, a popular Andean dish, showcasing the clash of cultures when the Germans settled in Peru after the war. We are always looking for ways to take inspiration from Peru’s history, and from its different regions and cultures, in order to surprise our guests with food and flavours they may not have experienced before.
Why is it important to offer your guests a Christmas experience? Was this something asked for by your customers?
We have always celebrated Christmas, while staying true to our Peruvian heritage. The festive season is a fantastic time to showcase the best of what makes the Andes so rich and diverse, in respect of the wonderful ingredients on offer, as well as the crafts and textiles used to help decorate the area and the upbeat Peruvian music guaranteed to get everyone into the Christmas spirit. We are proud to bring that to life this year with our Andina Christmas – a celebration of food, drinks and music from the Andes.
How do you balance creating a festive atmosphere and menu with staying true to Peruvian influences?
Our Christmas menu takes its inspiration from traditional dishes that are enjoyed in the Peruvian Andes at this time of year, but with our own innovative take and nod to our London home. Dishes like Otongo are a great example. Our veggie version features Huancayo potato steamed bun, spicy guava sauce and queso fresco. We spotted this dish in Huancayo’s main market and had to create a version ourselves, which was perfect to share just in time for Christmas.
What advice would you give other chefs on how to create a festive menu?
It’s important to think about what your guests want, while still remaining true to your own values and roots. The Christmas Tree dessert which features on our Andina Christmas menu fuses festive flavours that we all know and love in the UK like cranberries, but with a distinct Peruvian twist in the form of a pear & pisco bavaroise. It’s this innovation and balance of the familiar with exciting, new flavours that really excite customers and ensure a Christmas meal they will remember.
Does the team at Andina get involved with the festive fun?
Of course! It’s impossible to be in Andina and not feel festive. We have a new display of original art from our recent cookbook and fantastic, festive music, meaning that Andina is the place to experience the Andes for all senses during this festive season. It’s this multisensory festivity that makes our team get into the Christmas spirit – fantastic food, drinks and celebration for everyone in the restaurant!
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