For millennia, Peru’s native peoples drew culinary inspiration from the country’s diverse regional ecologies. From Peru’s bountiful Pacific waters to the peaks and valleys of the Andes and the Amazon jungle basin, every region, every people, had their own traditions, recipes, tonics and techniques. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spain made Peru the political seat of its New World colonies. Spanish aristocracy populated the valleys of coastal Peru, primarily settling in the area now known as Lima. The Peruvian diet shifted dramatically to accommodate Spanish ingredients, recipes and traditions, including those of the Moorish Arabs who had occupied Spain and North Africa for the nearly seven hundred years previous. When Peru gained its independence from Spain in the 1820s, waves of immigrants arrived from China, Japan, France and Italy, bringing along the recipes and cooking techniques of their homelands. Today, Lima is considered one of the gastronomical capitals of the world, reflecting Peru’s complex, internationally influenced culinary history.
The eventual melding of Old and New World culinary customs gave rise to one of Peru’s most popular cuisines – la cocina Criolla. Andina’s kitchen emphasizes the brilliant flavors and cherished techniques of la cocina Criolla, while also introducing the contemporary principles of la cocina Novoandina, or Novo-Andean cooking. Novo-Andean cuisine aspires to revive native, pre-Colonial ingredients and techniques and incorporate them into creative, modern presentations of the highest international caliber. A passionate and tirelessly inquisitive spirit informs the creation of Andina’s menus, as we celebrate Peru’s long history, its current culinary renaissance, and the homegrown bounty of Oregon’s own farmers, ranchers and fishermen. Head Chef Hank Costello and Pastry Chef Megan Vargas lead Andina’s kitchen team in selecting and preparing the freshest and most authentic ingredients available. From ocean to farms, Andina sources its ingredients both locally and in direct trade with a community of organic farmers in Chincha, Peru. Our goals are to serve delicious food in a beautiful setting and offer a genuine taste of Peruvian culture as expressed through its cuisine.
Born and raised here in Portland, Megan Vargas studied in the baking program at the Western Culinary Institute (now Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts) and came to Andina’s pastry department in 2007. In 2010 Megan was promoted to head of the pastry department, and in 2011 she wowed all of Portland with her ice cream-making talent, winning the Dairy Farmers of Oregon Taste of Summer Churn-A-Ment. Megan was also honored with a much-deserved nomination for FOOD & WINE’s The People’s Best New Pastry Chef 2013 award. Andina has become an important part of Megan's life, as she has not only proved her ability and creativity at crafting exquisite desserts, but also met Edgar, a line cook, whom she married in 2009 and with whom she works side by side on a regular basis.
Chessa Fait gives her mother credit for inspiring her to enter the world of pastry. Growing up in Medford, Oregon, Chessa and her sister learned how to cook, preserve fresh fruits and vegetables, and bake. She left home in 2009, landing in Chicago in the dead of winter to attend the French Pastry School, where she learned from some world famous chefs. After working in several restaurants, bakeries, and hotels to refine her knowledge and discover her niche, she happily moved back to the milder climate of Oregon and managed a small bakery in her hometown. In July of 2014 she moved to Portland to join the Andina team, where she can indulge her passion – making and eating ice cream. Her other sweet creations are no slouch, either! Chessa enjoys exploring new places, making meals, and having game nights with close friends and family.
Kitchen Staff, 2014