At 8am on 15th June 2012, Orient-Express will open the doors to its sixth hotel in Peru, Palacio Nazarenas. A former 16th century convent, the all suite hotel will be a contemporary reflection of Cuzco’s culture, elements of which will be reflected in its restaurant. Senzo the new restaurant at Palacio Nazarenas will only serve carefully prepared locally sourced Andean cuisine, a first for the city. Orient-Express has instructed and recruited the talents of bright young Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez to oversee all food and beverage at Senzo. Virgilio will ensure that the menu will retain its Andean authenticity whilst featuring his signature avant garde twist, allowing for a delightful journey of gastronomic discovery for all guests.
The concept for cuisine will incorporate a strict ethical sourcing policy, whereby all produce used in the kitchens will be bought from farmers and producers located within a small radius around the hotel. Absolutely no foreign ingredients will be imported, demonstrating Orient-Express’ dedication to supporting the local communities by working alongside them as they grow and sell produce to the hotel. In addition to sourcing products locally, Palacio Nazarenas will have its very own vegetable garden, Jardin Nazarenas, as well as a secret herb garden. These will provide Virgilio and his team with a huge variety of ingredients such as the fragrant herb muna, and a selection of Andean tomatoes.
Changing daily depending on the fresh produce that is available, the menu at Senzo will be hugely interactive, with guests being able to choose what dish they would like to sample after a one-on-one consultation with the chef. The only decision diners will need to make is what Andean ingredients they would like to sample, and a dedicated menu will be put together to incorporate these special ingredients.
Virgilio, who will provide guidance and culinary direction to his team of expert chefs at Senzo, is keen for guests staying at Palacio Nazarenas to have a unique dining experience, indicative of their location over 3000km above sea level. As such, he has spent the large majority of the last three years travelling through Peru, discovering the best ingredients and cooking techniques the country has to offer. On his travels, he also came across some of the country’s most talented young chefs who he has subsequently taken on as consultants. Virgilio’s team of experts will include a chef who specialises in the 2000 varieties of potatoes and one whose expertise lies in the infusions of herbs from the Sacred Valley. Together they have created an innovative menu sure to delight many a experienced palate, something Virgilio is only too aware his clients will possess. Virgilio will also tap into the knowledge and know-how of the restaurant’s local suppliers for inspiration.
Signature dishes and treats from the exciting menu at Senzo will include Malaya, a very popular cut of meat cooked for 24 hours at a 68 degree heat in Eucalyptus emulsion, and a local cheese also infused with Eucalyptus.
Born in Lima, Virgilio has travelled the globe, working for some of the most established hospitality companies in the world. Discovering his love for cooking by exploring some of the most vibrant cities in the world, he has worked with French, Japanese, Peruvian, and Spanish chefs, building his expertise over the years. Of his new project Virgilio says “I love that Orient-Express is committed to creating new experiences and concepts for guests. Whenever it opens a hotel in a new location, the focus is always to create authentic experiences that help guests really get to grips with the culture and I can’t wait to be a part of this brand new challenge. It is hugely important for me to focus on making use of the extraordinary produce that grows in this unique environment and I intend on bringing these ingredients right to the door step of Palacio Nazarenas in an authentic yet innovative way”.
Senzo, which will seat 64 people, will be open to guests and non residents of Palacio Nazarenas and will serve both lunch and dinner menus, with an average meal priced from $57 (approximately £36) for a three course meal excluding alcoholic beverages.