Learning traditional Peruvian dishes with chef Uhlig

Peruvian chef... Matias Uhlig
Peruvian chef Matias Uhlig

Alexandra Meyer

Instituto Cervantes, the Spanish Official Language and Cultural Centre, is introducing a new gastronomy initiative called Cervantes Sabor.

Peruvian chef... Matias Uhlig
Peruvian chef … Matias Uhlig

Cervantes Sabor is a new opportunity for Sydneysiders to experience the flavours of Spain and Latin America through wine tastings, food degustation sessions, cooking courses and more.

The first of many activities scheduled for the coming months is The Traditional Cuisine of Peru, which will take place at Ryde Hospitality College.

The first session combines traditional cooking classes with a unique fine-dining experience. In two series of three-hour sessions, students will learn how to prepare a complete meal of Peru’s classic dishes- from cocktails featuring Pisco, the spirit of Peru, to dessert.

The classes will cover meal preparation, plating and serving.

At the end of the course, students will showcase their new culinary skills to family, friends and guests at a special dinner.

Renowned Peruvian chef Matías Uhlig, along with pastry chef Georg Willmes and Peruvian Pisco purveyor Luis Almenara, will conduct the classes.

Chef Uhlig brings more than a decade of experience as an executive chef across Central and South America, Europe and Australia to this unique series of classes.

Peruvian classics...Causa Limeña and Parihuela
Peruvian classics…Causa Limeña and Parihuela

Passionate about his heritage and his culture, chef Uhlig describes the Peruvian style of cooking as “a melting pot of different cultures using local products and keeping the essential flavours.”

“Peruvian cuisine is healthy, modern and finally being discovered by the world,” he said.

Before Cervantes Sabor kicks off, Lunch had a chat with Chef Uhlig to learn more about his love for Peruvian cuisine and his plans for the cooking classes.

How did you become involved with Instituto Cervantes?

Instituto Cervantes team was organising Cervantes Sabor and a good friend of us asked me if I would be interested to do these cooking classes.

I think this is an excellent initiative to promote the Latin American food culture in Australia and I proudly accepted to be part.

It’s always good to promote the cuisine of our countries.

My experience in Peruvian food is unique and I think the people who will attend these courses will really enjoy the activity.

What do you love about teaching people how to cook?

It’s always funny, interacting; you learn each class something new from the ‘students’ and on the end it’s directed to adults that really love cooking and of course eating.

If you had just three ingredients to cook with, what would they be?

Fish, lime and chilli.

What are some things that are distinctive of Peruvian cooking?

The variety of products used, the freshness and the mixture of all the different culinary cultures that arrived in past centuries.

What is your idea of the perfect meal?

Fresh products if possible, a good white fish, simple presentation, keeping each ingredient as close to its origin as possible.

A great ceviche as starter, Seco de cordero or Lomo saltado, caucau, arroz con mariscos (rice with seafood).

Desserts: some natural local fruits or a slice of King Kong* with cherimoya ice cream.

Or slow stewed lamb ribs in anticuocho sauce, sweet potato puree and huacatay.

*King Kong is a cookie filled with different layers of milk jam (manjarblanco) and fruit paste such as pineapple or quince.

Where do you go out in Sydney to have good Peruvian food?

I prefer to stay at home and cook.

I really enjoy cooking for friends and people I love at home instead of going out.

What is your favourite dish to cook at home?

Causa, anticuchos, ajide gallina, papa rellena (kind of a shepherd’s pie), ceviche, escabeche.

Or when my wife doesn’t know what to cook I always find something to cook with and present a dish.

Who would you most love to cook for?

My family and close friends.

What meal do you remember most from your childhood?

Sundays we always had family tamales, amazing white corn and savoury steamed dumplings filled with chicken or pork, olive and chilli wrapped in banana leaves.

What are some of the meals you will be teaching in the classes?

Ceviche, tamal verde, parihuela (fish soup), causa (cold/spicy potato puree) with fresh tuna, lomo saltado (stir-fried tenderloin), seco de cordero (lamb stew), Suspiro Limeno and crema volteada.

The classes are scheduled for Saturday, 28 September and Saturday, 5 October and will feature two different menus.

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