Diego Oka’s distinguished, globetrotting career owes much of its start to a chance encounter in a supermarket. While studying culinary arts at Lima’s Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola, a young Oka ran into Chef Gastón Acurio, who agreed to let him complete his required internship at Astrid y Gastón. After graduating in 2001, Oka spent a year and a half as a line cook at Ichi Ban Japanese restaurant before Acurio lured him to Tanta Restaurant to groom the young cook for the executive chef position of his next restaurant. In 2004, Oka opened Sogo Room Bar & Restaurant but left after six months, deciding he had more to learn before becoming “a boss.”
Acurio put Oka to work opening the first La Mar Cebicheria in 2005 as executive chef. He later left to open La Mar in Mexico City, where he stayed three and a half years before returning to Lima to launch La Mar in Bogotá, Colombia. Oka moved to open yet another La Mar—this time in San Francisco, where he stayed for two years. In 2013, Oka opened La Mar in Miami, where he established his roots and later won a StarChefs Rising Stars Chef award. Oka has made a name for himself as an American forerunner of Peruvian cuisine.
Awards & Press
- World’s 50 Best