SUMMIT, NJ – Peruvian cuisine is among the most delicious and wholesome in the world. Just ask Lima-born chef Marita Lynn, who will prepare a lucuma mousse with pisco chocolate sauce at the 3rd Annual Summit Wine and Food Festival this weekend.
A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, Lynn says she returns to her roots when she cooks. “I love to cook simple, good food that has Peruvian flair. I focus on seasonal ingredients and grow my own garden during the summer.”
As a child, Lynn remembers that food was woven into the fabric of everyday life. “My grandmother cooked great meals for people at parties,” she says. “When my family is together, food is always involved.”
Nutrition was a main focus of her family. “Growing up, my mother fed us nutritious, balanced meals,” she says. "I think this is why hearty food is so important to me now."
Lynn traces the health-value of Peruvian food back to the time of the Incas. “The Incas always connected food with the universe and mother earth. Ingredients are seasonal, organic and healing,” she explains.
A desire to provide people with fresh fare prompted Lynn to open her own catering business, Catering By Marita, in 2004. “I cook with vegetables from my garden, including Peruvian peppers, which you cannot get fresh in the U.S. I do not use frozen or processed foods. There are absolutely no additives,” she promises.
In addition to working one-on-one with clients, Lynn’s business is expanding to private preschools, where she teaches children how to eat right from a very young age.
“I am working with ten schools this September, with the possibility to double that number,” she says. “Kids love the food and so do the parents, knowing their kids are eating natural, unprocessed foods.”
Lynn also provides daily fresh meal deliveries for people who do not have time to cook at home. “I cook for them so that they can spend time with their families,” she says. “I create dishes from the very basic to the really exotic. I also cater to vegetarians and vegans.”
Catering By Marita serves individuals and businesses in the NY/NJ Metro area, with clients including E! Entertainment, Celebrity Designer Sam Fine, BBC Productions, L’Oreal, Charles Schwab and the New Jersey Governor’s Mansion.
Marita also cooked for the 2007 Cannes Film Festival as part of the American Pavilion and has participated in Share Our Strength’s ‘Taste of the Nation.'
Lynn has trained with acclaimed chef Jean George and worked at Daniel Boulud’s Feast and Fetes Catering, The Ryland Inn and The Bernards Inn in New Jersey. Yet her approach to food is solidly down-to-earth.
“My real desire is to take care of my clients,” she says. Also eager to introduce North America to the healthy cuisine she loves, Lynn launched Marita’s Peruvian Cooking a food blog and video cooking show.
Some of Lynn’s favorite foods include ceviche, quinoa and potatoes and peppers. “Ceviche is fresh and simple and quinoa can be used in so many different ways,” she explains. “In Peru, there are so many types of potatoes and peppers. One of my favorite uses of the pepper is an ancho pepper sauce.”
“What I love most about Peruvian food is the diversity of dishes,” she explains. “There is such a blending of people and cultures, as people have migrated to Peru from Europe, Asia and Africa. The result is lots of flavors mixed into the food.”
Chef Lynn will take part in the "Sommelier Showdown" from 12:30 -2:30 p.m in the Grand Ballroom at the Grand Summit Hotel.