After a decade of searching for excellence, the Peruvian chef triumphs in Madrid with his five restaurants built on sacrifice, effort, and dedication
Jhosef Arias was born in the Lima district of San Juan de Lurigancho, Peru, a humble neighborhood from where he used to climb the hard steps of life. Life was never easy for him when he was a child, but he rose to become the owner of five Peruvian food restaurants in Madrid. Jhosef Arias is an example of self-improvement and perseverance who knows no limits when putting his country at the top through his cuisine.
Peru has positioned itself among the best gastronomies in the world. There is no doubt that there is plenty of talent, but how to stand out in the face of so much demand?
Work, dedication, and effort. If one person dedicates five hours and another dedicates 14 hours to the project, it is obvious that the second one will do better. I have a wonderful family, but one key is putting effort into the restaurant.
I don’t like to call it a “successful restaurant” because it’s a very long and steady road. When I started my first project in 2013 I put all my effort and even moved away from my friends to make it happen. I am lucky that I am passionate about this, I love it. I enjoy any day of my life. I don’t get overwhelmed.
What is your essence at the moment of innovating and promoting signature cuisine far from your Peruvian lands?
Fish, lime, salt, ají limo, good cilantro. It is delicious. Beyond the fact that it is signature cuisine, it is a sign of respect for an ancient, ancestral recipe, the way I used to eat. If it is rice with seafood, I try to prepare the rice on the same day. I don’t like the word “challenge”, but respect.
My job is to make my team understand my way of thinking so that they repeat those dishes. If someone comes to work with me, I like them to respect the products.
Tell us about your latest projects as Bold Kitchen, how did this idea come about? Where do you get your ideas from?
I’m 35 years old and I’m a crazy person. When I travel, go out to eat, or attend wine presentations, my brain is fed with information. My ideas come out of this head and my wonderful team. Bold Kitchen is a gastronomic space where we do developmental cooking. We make our own bread, “macerado” (drink), and we bring Camu camu (fruit), Cocona (fruit), and “aji charapita” (hot bell pepper).
What is the feeling of Peruvian diners when they see that there is a man bringing his own Peruvian roots into European cuisine and doing well?
Discovery, development, appreciation. People like to know what Peru is really like. Spaniards are really grateful and open to try many dishes. When we open a project, they trust the “Jhosef” brand. My favorite dish is the Escabeche de Pollo, when my guests try it they are amazed. This also has to do with the influence of the Spaniards, who gave us the essence of the cuisine.
“The Spaniards have welcomed us with open arms. We are not playing as a local, but as a visitor.”Jhosef Arias, Peruvian chef based in Madrid.
You are a Peruvian ambassador in Spain and that is reflected in the recognition from multiple entities. What would you say to Peruvian chefs who also dream of crossing borders?
My mother is from Huaral and my father is from Mala. I come from a poor family, but Peruvians have to leave egocentrism behind. First, they have to learn the national reality and learn to really cook.
You are the owner of your life. For me, there are basic things that must be taken into account such as the support of those who accompany you in difficult moments. We are nothing without a work team. I started with a small bar and then we broke it up. However, I don’t think I have reached the goal.
In this way, the Peruvian chef will seek this year to concentrate on absorbing more culinary knowledge, traveling and enjoying his days and, above all, continuing to eat deliciously. Because his optimism leads him to seek new adventures in the world of gastronomy.