Peru wins South America's Leading Culinary Destination award

Forget Argentina's steak and Brazil's red beans. Foodies now know where to head to find the finest of South American food, after Peru won the top honor as South America's leading culinary destination at the World Travel Awards.

Take the best selection of seafood from the Pacific Ocean, mix it with some corn, potatoes and the spicy sauce aji, add a pinch of Spanish influence plus some Chinese and West African elements, and you get Peruvian food.

Renowned for its ingredients and traditional dishes, Peruvian gastronomy was honored with the South America's Leading Culinary Destination award at the World Travel Awards, also known as the "Oscars of the travel industry," last Friday. The award was given to Peru after beating this year's other nominees, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The award reflects the growing popularity of native Peruvian food and its techniques in recent years. Many of the country's traditional foods such as quinoa have become regular staples across the world.

Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio has played a massive role in the growth in popularity of Peruvian gastronomy. Acurio opened his first restaurant in Lima in 1994 with his wife Astrid. Since then he has expanded his business to South American capitals such as Bogotá, Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires. Acurio has recently opened restaurants in San Francisco and Madrid. He has also published a series of books on Peruvian cuisine and produced a documentary with Spanish chef Ferran Adrià called Peru Sabe: Cuisine as an agent of social change.

The World Travel Awards were launched in 1993 with the aim of recognizing excellence in the global tourism industry. They currently include regional and worldwide travel awards in different categories, such as leading beach destination, leading green destination and leading sport tourism destination, among others.

A group of professionals from the industry nominate participants for each category. Consumers are then asked to vote online to select the regional winners. Regional winners then compete head to head in a final round of voting. Winners of the world's awards will be announced on December 12 at a gala ceremony in New Delhi.