At only 39 years of age, the Peruvian cook who enchanted the Chileans with his Nikkei cooking leaves, and for better or worse, leaves no one indifferent.
Yesterday morning he was found dead in an apartment momentarily rented by chef Ciro Watanabe in Lima. According to a statement issued by his family, his death was the result of “a chronic illness”. Other versions speak of a digestive hemorrhage. However, it is a sudden death that surprises the Peruvian and Chilean gastronomic environment, especially considering the age of the chef: 39 years. In spite of his youth, Watanabe already had an enviable professional history. A graduate of Le Cordon Blue Peru in 2000, he made his first moves at the classic Matsuei in the Peruvian capital, and then moved on in 2005 to Osaka, the restaurant that together with him and other young chefs expanded the area of influence of Nikkei cuisine in several South American capitals. And it was precisely with Osaka Ciro that he arrived in Chile in 2009 to open the branch located in the nascent Hotel W. He came for two years, but stayed until last summer when he returned to Lima with an uncertain future.
The happy years
The arrival of Watanabe and Osaka in Santiago in 2009 coincides with perhaps the best years of the Chilean gastronomic scene in recent times. Because in spite of the earthquake in 2010, the past decade only saw multiple openings, the consolidation of new gastronomic poles and the transformation of many chefs -Ciro included- into true stars that transcended their restaurants and even reached the homes of people who could never afford one of their dishes, thanks to their appearances on television programs. These were enlightening years that were consolidated with the arrival of Osaka – and several other restaurants in Santiago – in the 50 Best ranking. About Ciro in particular, the specialized critics and the public that filled his restaurant praised the quality of the products he worked with and his talent to give the same level of seasoning and spectacularity to preparations that ranged from tiraditos and ceviches, to grilled meats and even pickled ears. There was simply no waste or low spots in his kitchen. But nothing lasts forever. Osaka moved from the W Hotel to New Coast, which took a forced break of more than a year. When he reopened his impact was high, but not at the level of when he first landed in Santiago.