Maria Julia Raffo – Peru Gastronomy Expert

Culinary Travel in Peru

Aracari’s Peru Gastronomy expert and PR advisor, Maria Julia Raffo, tells her part of the Aracari story. She shares what it’s like to scope out new products and great places to eat for guests, constantly in search of new experiences, as we look back on 20 years of Aracari.

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I met Marisol in 1986 in London. She had just graduated and was working in Finance in the city. We were both living in London, had mutual friends and have basically been good friends ever since.

When she told me she was moving back to Peru and shared her plans for Aracari, I was really excited and fully supported her. What Marisol started doing was completely different. There was some tourism here in Peru, but in those days it was very traditional tours, taking people to tourist traps. Marisol really was a pioneer in sustainable tourism, engaging with projects and individuals who were seeking to develop initiatives that really uplifted the communities.

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Over the years I’ve been involved with Aracari in different guises.

I travelled with Aracari as a client in 2006. It was a wonderful trip showing my homeland Peru to my daughter. It was great to experience the Aracari offering as a client and to see Peru from the perspective of a visitor. As expected, everything was taken care of and the most thoughtful touches made it an incredible experience. I particularly remember Fernando Silva, our wonderful guide in Cusco.

Later, when I moved back to Lima, I started to get more and more involved with Aracari as Marisol asked for advice and assistance here and there, particularly with Peru culinary travel. I’ve done quite a few trips with Marisol as well, testing products and seeking out the best for Aracari’s clients. Then eventually she suggested we formalise the relationship and I became officially part of Aracari.

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Many Aracari feathers in my hat

As Aracari’s gastronomic advisor I have the pleasure of trying out new places in Lima’s exciting food scene, and making connections, and will only recommend the very best for Aracari guests. I was involved with putting together Aracari’s Culinary guide on Peru Culinary Travel and arranged for my cousin, the renowned chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino to write the forward. I never get tired of the incredible gastronomic offerings in Lima, and love trying new restaurants when they pop up. So many exciting things are happening with food in Lima. We have 3 restaurants in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and it’s exciting that visitors are coming to Peru for the food, not just to visit Machu Picchu.

I’m also involved with product development and always have my eye out for new and exciting experiences for our guests – that’s something that I believe sets Aracari apart from others. Together with our combined connections we can facilitate anything in Peru – whether that means arranging access to a privately owned Classic Car collection, or arranging personal introductions to contemporary artists. It’s great fun testing out experiences and meeting new people, knowing that Aracari clients will appreciate the level of details we go to in making sure everything will be perfect when they travel.

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I’m not office based, and I like to stay mobile. With my PR hat on, I often meet with  journalists and special visitors, introducing them to special characters and places, and basically give them an honest and real perspective on my home, Peru.

My anniversary message to Marisol and the team:

Keep being true to yourself. Don’t lose sight of those core principles and the ethos that makes Aracari stand apart from the competition. You’re doing a great job, so keep it up!

If you’re interested in exploring Peru’s gastronomy, have a look at our Peru with Flavour itinerary, which includes many of Maria Julia’s top picks for restaurants and culinary experiences. To start planning a trip to Peru, contact us or email travel@aracari.com.

 

Download our FREE Ebook: Peru Culinary Travel. The Best Food and Drink and Where to Find It.

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