Photo courtesy of La Mar

Chef Diego Oka, Executive Chef of La Mar by Gaston Acurio at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami is known for his innovative, inspired take on cuisine from his home country of Peru. As of this fall, New York diners will get a taste of his food when they dine at NoLiTa’s Chef’s Club.

Curated by Culinary Director Didier Elena, a 20-year Alain Ducasse veteran, and Creative Director Dana Cowin, the Chef's Club menu features 25 signature dishes from 25 top chefs from around the world. The only Miami-based chef to be included, Diego’s dish Cebiche Classic – fluke, rock shrimp, octopus, uni, and leche de tigre ­– is a modern take on a Peruvian classic. 

What was the thinking behind the dish you created for the menu? 
The dish was inspired by country in which it was born – Peru. We wanted to capture a dish that represented the cultural spirit and flavors of Peru, while highlighting the heritage and precision of Japanese technique; and then of course bring a local relevancy to the dish by utilizing locally sourced ingredients!

How did it feel to be chosen to be a participant? 
Surprising, amazing, exiting… everything!  Being new to the New York culinary scene, it was a privilege to cook in such a prestigious and exclusive restaurant like Chefs Club by Food & Wine!  There are no words to explain the feeling I had when they asked to have our dish on the menu – truly a reminder that I love what I do!

You've worked with the Gaston all over the world, have local flavors influenced your menu at all? 
I’ve worked with Gaston for many years opening restaurants in Lima, Mexico City, Colombia, San Francisco, Chicago and now, Miami. We absolutely use local ingredients, but our menu is more so based on our diners and teaching them about our food - showing them the culture of Peru by using food as our lens.

Is there more pressure cook in Miami, given the proximity to Latin America and the presence of Peruvian diners? 
Miami is a city that has been eating Peruvian food for many years. In Miami alone there are more than 200 Peruvian restaurants. La Mar will turn three this year and we are hopeful that we have done our part to uplift the relevance of the cuisine. 

Lima has recently garnered a lot of attention for its food culture, how do you feel about the attention? 
Lima is a magical city where people love to eat and cook.  I’m proud that our little secret is out and everyone is excited about what we have to offer. Peru is centrally located, making so many resources available to us chefs – the Pacific Ocean, mountains, amazon and more than 90 microclimates – it makes for a very expansive culinary pantry.


Chef's Club is a restaurant from Food & Wine magazine in New York City’s NoLita neighborhood where signature dishes by the world's greatest chef's are featured on a seasonal menu. The innovative concept is a one-of-a-kind culinary experience curated by Food & Wine Creative Director Dana Cowin and Culinary Director Didier Elena. Other chefs featured include Alex Guarnaschelli, Alex Stupak, Christina Tosi, Daniel Boulud, Jacques Torres, Jeremy Fox, Kristen Kish, Marcus Samuelsson, Matt Aita, and Ori Menashe.

La Mar by Gaston Acurio
Mandarin Oriental, Miami
500 Brickell Key Dr | Miami