Vancouver food festival features ethnic cuisine and celebrity chefs

Peruvian-born restaurateur offers classic recipes

The term fusion is an understatement when describing Peruvian cuisine. According to Vancouver chef Pedro Guillen, its a unique blend of Spanish, African, Chinese, Japanese and European influences.

Throw in that countrys pre-Incan and Incan heritage and you have a melting pot of cuisine to rival even that of Vancouvers food scene.

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Peruvian-born Guillen, who owns Mochikas Peruvian Café on West Fifth Avenue in Kitsilano, will showcase classic recipes from his home country at this weekends Eat! Vancouver, a food and cooking festival that runs from June 1 to 3 at B.C. Place Stadium.

Guillen said the diverse combination of flavours and cultures is one of the key reasons Peruvian food appeals to so many.

Guillen will be joined by a team of other Peruvian chefs based in Vancouver in creating, cooking and serving more than 3,600 appetizers to the crowds of foodies expected to converge on B.C. Place this weekend. The team includes Ricardo Valverde, a sous chef at Blue Water Café, Alvaro Musso, sous chef at Market at the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver, and David Medrano, sous chef at The French Table. The Peruvian team will cook and demonstrate on the International Culinary Stage starting June 1 at 4:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. Free samples of their efforts will be available for tasting, compliments of PromPeru, the government agency responsible for promoting tourism and international business and trade in Peru.

Guillen said the chefs will prepare traditional dishes using Peruvian ingredients readily available in Canada, including quinoa, considered by many nutritionists to be a super food because the grain is rich in protein and vitamins. Quinoa was also once considered a sacred food by the Incas. Other ingredients used by the chefs this weekend include cranberries harvested in the jungles of Peru, mangos, passion fruit and peppers. A gluten-free chocolate cake is also on the menu.

This will be a great opportunity to introduce Canadian people to Peruvian food, said Guillen.

Also gracing the International Culinary Stage will be chefs from Mexico, Thailand, the Philippines and Louisiana. Vancouver chef Brodie Swanson will demonstrate First Nations cuisine.

The attractions, demonstrations and events taking place as part of Eat! Vancouver this weekend include a Kitchen Throwdown mystery box competition between celebrity chefs Bob Blumer, Food Network host of Worlds Weirdest Restaurants and Glutton for Punishment; Rob Feenie, the first Canadian chef to win Iron Chef: America, and David Rocco, host of the Food Network series David Roccos Dolce Vita. A live TV taping of their competition kicks off at 2 p.m. on the Food Network Celebrity Stage. The festival offers the Grapes & Hops Stage dedicated to sipping and cooking with spirits, wine and beer, which offers demonstrations including Ladies Night: An introduction to beer, summer recipes with Motts Clamato, and B.C. Wine: Whats in your glass.

For a complete schedule of events for Eat! Vancouver, visit

Guillen offered Courier readers his recipe for Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian dish traditionally made from sliced beef, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes. To check out Guillens recipe, go to

Twitter: @sthomas10

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