The chef credited in large part for bringing true Peruvian cuisine to Australia is set to open new restaurant Morena in Sydney’s CBD this November.
When Alejandro Saravia arrived in Australia from Lima, Peru, in 2006, he discovered there was a lot of misunderstanding about what Latin American cuisine was. At that time, he says the Australian market was very focused on Mexican cuisine, which created a catch-all for all Latin American cuisine.
“There was no differentiation between cultures,” he says. “When I started introducing Peruvian cuisine, people began to understand that there was very much a difference across Latin American cultures.”
For a long time in Australia, Saravia says people’s experience with visiting South America was about backpacking on a budget and eating street food. Today, people are travelling across the Americas more, experiencing the diversity of culture and levels of gastronomy.
“They’re coming back more educated on what’s around, and then seeking that in the dining scene here,” says Saravia.
Saravia introduced Australia to Peruvian cuisine with his company, A Taste of Peru, which shares the flavours and cooking methods of Peruvian cuisine through cooking classes, degustations, and gourmet tours to his home country.
He’s also opened several restaurants, including Pastuso (which he left in 2021), Farmer’s Daughters, and Victoria by Farmer’s Daughters, all in Melbourne. His first restaurant, though, a Sydney spot called Morena, opened in 2011 and shut in 2013. This November will see the opening of a new iteration of it: A 220-seat venue in the historic GPO building at 1 Martin Place, with its same name, Moreno.
As for why Saravia chose this location, he says that to create a statement restaurant, the team wanted a statement location. The building is not only in the heart of Sydney but also iconic. True to his philosophy of working directly with farmers, suppliers, and producers, Morena will continue to source seasonal produce from across Australia and will also work with authentic ingredients from across Latin America to stay true to the true flavours of those cuisines.
“Farmer’s Daughters and Victoria by Farmer’s Daughters in Melbourne are focused on sourcing and showcasing local produce from Gippsland and across Victoria,” says Saravia.
“Morena will hero Latin American cuisines and seek to elevate Australians’ understanding of the gastronomy scene across Latin America. It’ll showcase the diverse culinary heritage beyond just street food, all while preserving the rich cultural roots and authentic flavours that define it.”