As executive chef of Tanta in Chicago, Jesus Delgado maintains a simple and traditional food philosophy, letting the flavors of his ingredients shine. Collaborating with well-known South American Chef Gastón Acurio, Delgado takes diners on a voyage through Peru and its food, as he is committed to introducing the authentic flavors of the country to Chicagoans.
He focuses on iconic Peruvian flavors, particularly in cebiches and other seafood-centric plates, created with fresh fish received daily at the restaurant. Additionally, he crafts a number of lesser-known plates, highlighting the multiculturalism and biodiversity of the country with proteins such as lamb, beef, and poultry. “I hope that every one of Tanta’s guests has a one-of-a-kind experience,” he says. “Peruvian cuisine is so inviting and intriguing, with influences from the Pacific Ocean through the Amazon and up to the Andes. At Tanta, our guests can explore all that Peru has to offer, without needing a passport.”
Delgado, 32, was born and raised in Peru, one of the world’s most diverse and eclectic food cultures. When he was a child, his family owned and operated a small market in Lima, and he grew up in the kitchen watching his grandfather, an incredible cook. This early food exposure, along with Peru’s distinct melting pot culture and cuisine, fueled Delgado to become a chef and do his part in sharing his homeland’s cuisine abroad.
He went on to study at Le Cordon Bleu in Lima before transferring across town to the University of San Martin De Porres, from which he obtained a degree in hospitality and tourism in 2002. Upon graduation, Delgado cut his teeth at a number of Chinese- and Japanese-influenced restaurants in Lima before landing at Acurio’s La Mar Cebicheria in 2007 as a line cook. By 2011, Delgado had worked his way up and excelled in the role of cebiche chef at La Mar, creating a diverse menu of traditional and unexpected fresh fish dishes and other cold plates, cementing his reputation for showcasing Peruvian seafood in distinctive and unexpected ways. “I learned from my time working under Chef Acurio that simplicity is the best philosophy,” Delgado says. “When you keep that in mind, you can bring together flavors across food cultures that appeal to everyone.”
Delgado is honored to have participated in Acurio’s world tour of the Pandilla Leche de Tigre when it made a stop in Chicago to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Tanta. In his spare time, the River North resident enjoys exploring the diverse culinary scene of Chicago. He has two sons, 8 and 5 years old, who live in Peru.