This year the honor goes to Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio.
Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio is joining the likes of Paul Bocuse, Joël Robuchon, and Alice Waters: This year he will receive one of the biggest awards in the culinary world, the Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award from the World’s 50 Best restaurants organization.
Widely referred to as the “ambassador of Peruvian cuisine,” Acurio has been cooking at and managing the restaurant franchise Astrid & Gastón since 1994. Since then, he’s been hard at work expanding his empire, opening several more restaurants including La Mar, which has locations around South America and focuses on Peruvian seafood; Madam Tusan, a Chinese-Peruvian fusion restaurant; and his Chicago restaurant, Tanta.
In 2013, the World’s 50 Best named Astrid & Gastón the best restaurant in Latin America as part of Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants list. The same year, Latin America’s 50 Best honored Acurio with a lifetime achievement award. At the time, a spokesperson for the organization commented that the chef is “a culinary giant, who more than deserves this fitting accolade." As of the 2017 World’s 50 Best list, Astrid & Gastón comes in at number 33.
The chef calls the Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award “the most beautiful award a chef can receive” because it proves that he’s been able to bring “Peruvian food to people’s hearts.”
Acurio also says that he loves to see ceviche on restaurant menus in places like Spain and the United States because it means that Peruvian cuisine is now being celebrated around the world.
At only 50, Acurio has opened more than ten restaurants around the world. It’s also worth noting that when he received his first lifetime achievement award in 2013, Astrid & Gastón ranked 14 on the World’s 50 Best list, the highest ranking restaurant in Latin America. Today, there are two restaurants in Peru in the top ten alone.