Not long ago, many of us wouldn’t have been able to pick quinoa out of a lineup, but over the past decade or so, the grain has steadily risen, becoming a darling of the health-savvy in particular, as well as chefs looking for ways to add variety to the plate. This weekend, the Peruvian staple will be the star of the gastronomic show at the second annual Peru to the World Expo, a showcase of that country’s culture that descends on the Altman Building on Saturday and Sunday.
“Quinoa is an ancient grain from Peru, and now New York has adopted it,” says Conrado Falco, the economic-commercial counselor of the commercial office of Peru in New York. And to highlight its diversity, the expo will feature chefs from both this city and the South American country cooking an array of dishes featuring the grain. Think “tamales made from quinoa and fried rice made from quinoa,” says Falco.
“We’ll have our top chefs do live cooking demonstrations,” says Miluska Laca Jara, who is coordinating the event. “We’re doing this event to help the people the small rural community growing quinoa.”
That focus will serve as the basis to highlight other Peruvian produce, including asparagus, peppers, roasted peppers, and artichokes. “We are the top importer of artichokes in the U.S.,” says Falco. And via the exhibition, he hopes attendees gain an understanding and appreciation of Peruvian cuisine in both a historic and modern context. “Peruvian food is not just classic Peruvian dishes but also modern things with special culinary techniques,” he explains.
Participating chefs include Victoriano Lopez of La Mar and Emmanuel Piqueras of Panca; the cooking demonstrations fit into a larger program of cultural exhibitions including dance and textiles.
The event runs from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets to the event are $25 online and $30 at the door.