Virgilio Martinez’ restaurant and agricultural research centre, Mil
High on our bucket list for future travel is the magical Peruvian restaurant, Mil. If you think of destination dining, this ticks every box.
Photography by James Thompson
Located 3,500 metres above sea level and a one-and-a-half hour drive from Cusco, Peru, is Mil, both a restaurant and biological research centre as part of the Moray Archaeological Complex.
Mil was founded by the Peruvian chef Virgilio Martínez, whose Central Restaurante in Lima is celebrated as one of the world's best. The building itself was designed by Lima-based Estudio Rafael Freyre as a place to nurture the local agricultural food system, gastronomy and sustainability of the area. Martinez works very closely with nearby communities and farmers - a recent project was setting up a recycled water system for the surrounding areas.
Estudio Rafael Freyre designed Mil as a place to nurture the local agricultural food system (top). The menu at Mil is centred around eight moments, or eight ecosystems of height, and each dish is specifically crafted from ingredients of those particular altitudes - dishes such as Preservation: Chuno, uchucuta, corn and oca, shown here.
To begin with, the surrounding landscape is simply breathtaking. Mil looks out over the Incan agricultural ruins of Moray with the Andes sprawling behind. This region is part of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which is a fertile valley irrigated by the Urubamba River, and includes the more widely known historical destination, Machu Picchu. The agricultural terraces that form part of this incredible landscape are called andenes, and were built in to the hillsides by the Incan civilisation (around 1000-1400CE).
Diversity of Corn: piscoronto, chullpi and white corn with local cheese (top). Guides take guests on foraging tours around the fields.
Mil's dining room, which is housed in a structure covered in a woven Ichu Fiber grass roof (a local native grass), blends into the landscape of the surrounding high altitude ecosystem. Indigenous agricultural farming in this area includes maize (or corn), among other crops that suit the high altitude. Martínez grows many of these ingredients on site, for a sustainable and environmentally-friendly farm-to-table experience.
Lunch at Mil is eight courses and may include anything from lamb tartare to local corn and Andean potatoes, and you can also choose to add on an immersive experience, which includes a guided foraging tour around the fields and meeting the local farmers.
Mil, Vía a Moray, Maras 08655, Peru.
Photography by James Thompson.