Palmiro Ocampo and 1087 Bistro, the emerging vanguard food scene.
When entering the establishment of 1087 Bistro, studio of the up and coming avant garde chef Palmiro Ocampo, I was greeted by thin brown paper taped to the walls, the traffic of different goods suppliers, and sign saying “Speakeasy” which brought me back to my 10th grade American history class. When I sat down with Palmiro, and asked him it was all about, he flustered a minute to tell a man behind me with a computer atop a file covered table to jot down a few things, then said, “Well, we’re busy. We’re going to re-open to the public again after this weekend so it’s a little hectic.” Apparently the Speakeasy was a clandestine service that was promoted by word of mouth. They would attend to up to 30 clients between Monday-Friday so that they could “fulfill their need to work” even though they weren’t finished with the remodeling.
We started to talk more about the project to come, 1087 Bistro, I started asking about the background, his team of worker bees. He explained that most of the people who work for him don’t have prior experience in Vanguard cooking. Although his techniques are modern, he tries to keep everything as traditional as possible. He’s created what he’s called a “Coqueteo Culinario” or a “Culinary Flirting” where he defines flirting as “an interaction towards something you like in a respective manner.” He wants his food to interact with tradition, with the Peruvian people. He wants you taste something that you would recognize and appreciate, but at the same time look beautiful and different. You can tell by looking at pictures of dishes he’s created (one of my personal favorites was one to symbolize the dangers of fish farming looming over the Amazonian fish Paiche) that esthetics is important to him. Something interesting he’s trying to do with 1087 Bistro as well is make it, quite literally, a bistro. He doesn’t want it to just be something of a snooty patooty fine dining establishment. He want’s someone to be able to come in with a friend or a date, have a nice evening, but also if they’re in a rush one day they can just come in and grab a sandwich. To me, it seems like an interesting project. Attempting to make a restaurant that serves as both bistro and restaurant prix fixe.
Then we started talking about his time with Tristram Stuart, renowned food waste activist & winner of the 2011 Sophie prize. Tristram came to give a speech in Qaray, along with Palmiro. “He’s one of those people that you meet that just, change your life. When Tristram got here, he had reservations to the best restaurants in Lima, but he opted to continue with his project here and went to the south of Lima, to Cañente, to Ica, visiting different farms to collect produce that wasn’t going to be used anymore. He brought the food here and we began to process it. We did our thing in Qaray then went immediately to cook the food from scratch along with the Food Bank. We cooked for 200 people, and Tristram, man, had his sleeves rolled up with everyone else just chopping away.” I asked him if he was inspired. He told me that before, he would look at leftovers as a creative gastronomic utensil. Through his movement Reciclaje Creativo he wants to teach younger chefs to be more conscious about their food while showing them that what we would consider as waste could be used to construct dishes of haute cuisine. But now he looks beyond that & wants to structure his restaurant to have 0% waste. Praising the fact that one can make gourmet, high-end dishes, with what is basically considered garbage.
Palmiro Ocampo is a young chef starting an exciting journey, with conscious ideals, impressive skills, and may I say a dashing smile. We can only hope that he will continue his work and hopefully, in the future, help the country become more conscious on the food waste that happens within.