Poor benighted Peru. Its image in recent times has been associated with political turmoil, corruption, social upheaval and inequity. Consequently, anything that adds to its national pride has to be taken seriously. Renowned chef Gastón Acurio is one of those positive forces and the subject of this documentary.
Acurio, son of a well-known Peruvian politician, was pushed into studying law in Spain but opted out very quickly, secretly enrolling in a French cooking school. His father eventually came around to supporting his son.
The younger Acurio returned to Peru to achieve his ambition of setting up a restaurant, Astrid & Gastón, with his wife.
From here, the story of the documentary, directed by Patricia Perez, focuses not only on his rise to fame but his championing of causes. These have included creating cooking schools for aspiring young chefs, promoting Peruvian cuisine, and improving the economic situation of producers such as fishermen and grain growers.
Acurio has been instrumental in showcasing his country’s blending of Peruvian, Japanese, Chinese, French and other influences, with eventual prominence of the first. It has taken him to ownership of several restaurants worldwide, with accompanying global awards.
Finding Gastón is a feel-good story which leaves one impressed while at the same time fearing that it may largely be PR fluff. Gastón Acurio, however, seems to be the real deal.
Acurio says his father advised him life is a bubble that might pop and, therefore, that one should pursue one’s ambitions without delay. This film has some pretty food moments, but it is the story of one person’s pursuit of his goals that makes it compelling.
Finding Gastón screens at Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas on May 15 as part of the Spanish Film Festival, which opened this week and continues until May 20.
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