Hearts of palm soufflé, scallops with wild almonds and umari fruit, plantain and yucca gnocchi, escolar fish in aji panka chili adobo, grilled paiche with Amazon huatia potatoes are just some of the regional delicacies created by Aqua Expeditions Amazon Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. Schiaffino has earned global recognition, including from The Diners Club® World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, for his innovative Amazonia-influenced cuisine, served at Malabar and Amaz, two of his top-ranked Lima restaurants, as well as on board the Aria Amazon.
Though Peruvian cuisine has made its way around the world, many of Schiaffino’s obscure yet delectable ingredients grow only the Amazon jungle. He has spent years studying the cooking traditions and food resources of Amazonia, working beyond the kitchen with anthropologists and environmental scientists. The Lima based chef returns often to go even deeper into this dense jungle in search of the next sustainable ingredients he’ll incorporate to create original recipes for Aqua Expeditions guests on the Amazon.
Schiaffino says around 70% of all ingredients on board are sourced in the waters and rainforest surrounding our journey, but guests may rest assured that dishes also stay true to more accessible indigenous traditions like Peruvian ceviche, with its succulent tranches of just caught river fish, juicy onions, cilantro, coriander and corn kernels the size of South Sea pearls.
Asked about his quests of gourmet discovery, Schiaffino replies with the excitement of a New World explorer in the time of Columbus:
“First I may hear from friends in Iquitos or villagers along the river about an unfamiliar dish or ingredient. So I start asking questions. Back in Lima, I dig to learn more, asking anthropologists and other experts.. Then, knowing my curiosity won’t be satisfied without tasting it myself, I plan another visit, sometimes heading off on a speedboat for eight hours or more. The Amazon constantly offers up tastes and flavors I’ve never imagined before.”