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Chef behind Lima's world famous Central fulfills Tokyo dream

New venture Maz is based on the "idea of flying seeds"

Virgilio Martinez, right, founder of Lima restaurant Central -- fourth on the list of the World's 50 Best Restaurants -- recently added Tokyo to the list of cities where he has a presence. The Peruvian-style restaurant Maz is being led by Santiago Fernandez, Central's former chief of creative development. (All photos courtesy of Maz)

TOKYO -- On a cloudy morning in Peru's Sacred Valley, a 40-mile stretch of farmland in the foothills of the Andes, Virgilio Martinez sips coffee inside the dining room of the expansive Explora hotel. Despite the early hour and a slight headache from the elevation -- 2,700 meters above sea level -- the 44-year-old chef has no difficulty weaving philosophical musings into koan-like observations.

"We have this idea of flying seeds," said Martinez, describing the concept behind Maz, his new venture in Tokyo, which opened on July 1. What follows is a reflection on biodiversity and cultural exchange that traces the migration of plant species via seeds that sailed across the ocean atop fallen leaves and smuggled in the pockets of humans.

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