Today we’d like to bring you the news of the community kitchen / school / restaurant that was opened in 2019 by Basque-Peruvian Gastón Acurio and Basque chef Karlos Arginñao, with the support of the Gipuzkoa provincial government.

The story we were going to tell at first seemed a reference to one specific event, but as soon as we scratched the surface, we found an amazing story about the Basques in Peru.

So, we’re going to tell the whole thing, starting at the beginning.

Pachacútec is located north of Lima, and is one of the most disadvantaged areas of the country.  It started growing at the beginning of this century, when 50,000 people invaded an area to the south of Lima, and were relocated to the north of the capital city, in Ventanilla.

Distritos de Pachacútec y Ventanilla (foto Sustainable sanitation )
Districts of Pachacútec and Ventanilla (photo Sustainable sanitation )

Seeing this situation, the Bishopric of Callao decided to start a foundation that would offer quality education with values, convinced that that way, the children and teens of Pachacútec as well as in other vulnerable areas could become the agents of their own development.  That’s how the Fundación Pachacutec was founded.

Monseñor Miguel irizar
Monsignor Miguel irizar

And that’s where we come across the first “Basque footprint” in this story that brings us to 2019.  The Bishop of Callao from 1989-2011 was Basque Passionist Miguel Irízar Campos, who we’ve cited before on many occasions.  He was also the missionary bishop of Yurimaguas from 1972-1989, named by Paul VI.

Therefore it was Irizar, acutely aware of the social needs thanks to his many years in the Peruvian Amazon, who started up the Pachacútec Foundation, which was charged with setting up and maintaining the Pachacútec Campus, which opened in 2004.

This footprint is even seen in the very definition of the work the Foundation has: to educate so that the “children, teens, and young people of Parachútec and other vulnerable areas can be the agents of their own development”, giving people the means and the tools so they can work for themselves.  The goal is to help them be better citizens and to not keep them in the same situation, perpetuating the misery.

A few years later, in 2007, the Foundation started the Cooking Race under the auspices of Gastón Acurio, the greatest promoter and spokesman for Peruvian cuisine, and one of the most influential chefs in the world.

Gastón Acurio Velarde con la Andra Mari de Arantzazu en la conmemoración del el 400 aniversario de la fundacion de la Hermandad de Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu de Lima
Gastón Acurio Velarde with theAndra Mari de Arantzazu statue at the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Aranzazu in Lima

This chef is the son of former Peruvian minister and senator Gastón Acurio Velarde.  So, he’s the descendant of a Basque whose first surname originates in Busturia.  On his mother’s side, he has the surname Rázuri, which comes from the Baztán area of Navarre.

But he’s not just the descendant of Basques: since their arrival in what is today Peru, his family has always maintained close ties to the Basque colony there.  Gastón Acurio Velarde actively participated in the activities of Our Lady of Aranzazu in Lima (which was founded in 1612 by the members of the “Basque nation” in that city).  He was a very good friend to Basque-Peruvian journalist Paco Igartua, who we’ve spoken about before.

We had to tell you all this so you could understand the deep significance behind the news we wanted to share with our readers today.

In April 2019, the Parachútec Campus started the CONVIDA Project, which has three goals: to be a restaurant/school for students in the culinary and hospitality industries; a communal kitchen for elementary-age students, and a restaurant for the workers and community surrounding the Foundation.

Actually, CONVIDA brings together two initiatives.  The first is Gastón Acurio’s proposal, to open a restaurant run by the Cooking School students that he himself got started.  Then, the Gipuzkoa Provincial Government and charismatic Basque chef and TV personality Karlos Aguiñano proposed installing a communal kitchen that would offer nutritious breakfasts for the educational community.  That’s how CONVIDA, a meeting space for the Foundation’s students and the community of Pachacútec, got started.

We found all this out thanks to the Peruvian magazine Caretas, which was founded by Paco Igartua, the Basque-Peruvian journalist and friend to chef Gastón Acurio.

Really, an amazing story about the Basques in Peru.

Caretas – 9/12/2019 – Peru

Convida: conoce el comedor social inaugurado por Gastón Acurio y Karlos Arguiñano

Desde hace más de dos años, las reconocidas figuras de la gastronomía Gastón Acurio de Perú, y Karlos Arguiñano, chef vasco, decidieron colocar un comedor social, que abrió sus puertas en abril de este año en los alrededores del Instituto de Cocina Pachacútec, en el distrito de Ventanilla.

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