Chef Rely Alencastre-Lazo creates banquet menus at the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco in Peru based on three important aspects: locality, seasonality and creativity.
Catering menus are inspired by ingredients from the indigenous region of Peru in the south part of the country. Some of these ingredients include quinoa (the most traditional), Andean trout (only found in the waters of Andean Peru), alpaca (similar to roast beef) and legumes from the Sacred Valley, which once formed the heart of the Inca Empire and is known for its fertile farmland.
These ingredients often show up on breakout and buffet menus. For instance, the hotel’s Cusco Creole breakout session includes mini smoked trout casa, mini tamales with creole salsa, freshly brewed Peruvian coffee and chichi mirada (a beverage made from blue corn). Similarly, the Machu Picchu New Seven Wonders Menu features alpaca carpaccio and trout shots with rococo chili cream sauce as well as rice and cusco corn.
Seasonality is equally important to Chef Alencastre-Lazo. He creates menus based on what’s being harvested such as choclo (giant Peruvian corn) from the Urubamba region, aka the Sacred Valley. He created an entire seven-course dinner around this ingredient. Dishes include choclo con queso, which is boiled corn on the cob with fresh white cheese; a cream of choclo lamb served over a corn souffle; fish served in a pepian sauce (a traditional sauce from the region); choclo cheesecake and a duo of homemade ice creams. Chef Alencastre-Lazo has also created tasting menus that revolve around organically grown ingredients in the region with highlights that include quinoa bread.
Chef Alencastre-Lazo and the F&B team encourage creativity when working with meeting planners and are very accommodating based on a group’s interests. For example, one group wanted to create a menu using the potato as a central ingredient because there are more than 3,000 potato varieties grown in Peru. From cocktails to desserts, the F&B staff created an entire menu that gave the group an understanding of the different shapes, colors and flavors of potatoes found in the region. Dishes included a potato cocktail, potato crisps with smoked trout and franchaise cream, a potato and chorizo omelet with saffron mayonnaise, assorted causas, native potato salad served with bacon, native potato chips served with assorted sauces and a warm bowl of potato cauche served with shrimp. This was all topped off with a scalloped potato dessert.