Mater Projects

Julio rivera

Researcher - Biologist

Julio Rivera PhD. Peruvian Entomologist. His vision, that globally, entomophagy understanding grows to the point Peru can become a world`s sustainable pantry. Then, an ancestral tradition could be revived and good quality nutritious food may be available for everyone. Read more about the project



Lidsay Brito was born in Huaraz, Ancash (north of Lima, Peru). She is a member of the Peruvian Botanical Society. Her experience has been related to research about plants, ecology and conservation, biogeography, food ethnobotany and medicinal plants, and plant physiology. She has worked in the herbarium of the Natural History Museum of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, as well as in several projects with Mater Iniciativa such as creating technical sheets for each product with which we work with in our kitchens. Read more about the project

Luis valderrama


Luis Valderrama is a Peruvian chef. He currently works as a kitchen freman in Mil. He was a member of the Central’s team for eight years, in which he assisted Virgilio and Pia in the kitchen. He has been involved with several Mater projects in Cuzco. Read more about the project

Cindy valdez

Product Designer

Cindy Valdez was born in Peru, where she studied Arts and Design for two years. In 2012, she was admitted at the University of the Arts in Berlin where she began studying Product Design. In 2018, she started her master's studies at the Weissensee School of Art in Berlin, under de supervision of ceramics teacher Barbara Schmidt. As an artist, she has participated in different exhibitions in Europe and South America. She currently lives in Berlin and is writing her Master’s thesis on product design. Read more about the project

Marc cardenas

Archaeologist and Gastronome

Marc Cárdenas was born in Barcelona. He is an archaeologist and gastronome focused on studying food as an element that structures social and cultural events. He has carried out research projects with the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, and CSIC-IMF Research Centre. He studied Culinary Arts at the Basque Culinary Center. His interests are related to transmitting, from an alternative didactics, the importance of food and its environment. With Mater Iniciativa, he carried out a bibliographic review of Moray from an archaeological point of view. Read more about the project

Manuel Contreras

Drinks Researcher

He was born in Toribio Casanova, between the mountains and the Amazon rainforest. Since he was a child, he saw his father working and healing with medicinal plants mainly from the mountains, which he collected on the farm or in the forest. When he graduated from high school, he travelled to Lima where he worked in a restaurant, and there he decided to study Bartending with a specialization in artisan cocktails. He has taught cocktails’ making in Urubamba, where he placed value on traditional native drinks. Today he runs Mil and works with Mater Iniciativa experimenting with ferments and distillates. Read more about the project

Nada Atallah

Graphic Designer

Nada is an Egyptian national; she graduated as a graphic designer, but she affirmed her passion for textiles through multiple projects. She has co-founded several design ventures in Cairo and has worked in projects involving the development of craft products. Her most recent research focuses on knitting with vegetal fibres in the region of Maras, Cuzco. It was here where she developed a collaborative project on the inclusion of vegetal materials in traditional knitting, from a new perspective, as a part of her Art residency with Mater. Read more about the project

Celine morancay


Céline is a French-Peruvian anthropologist; she is dedicated to research in social sciences at the IHEAL- Institut des Hautes Etudes de l’ Amerique Latine de La Sorbonne in Paris. She specializes in History and Anthropology and is also passionate about Photography. She is currently undertaking a research project in Peru for Mater Iniciativa, in which she combines anthropological methods with photography to photo document the food production chains, aiming to understand the challenges of agricultural production faced by small producers in the Cuzco region, as well as the social relationships that arise around the crops. Read more about the project

Every year we choose innovative projects, which undergo a screening procedure carried out by our team.
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Plastic artist

Valeria Figueroa is a sculptor graduated from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. She has been engaged with research and ceramics production for five years. She has attended workshops with ceramists such as Aura Luz Pilco, a traditional ceramist of the Chazuta community, as well as with Carlos Runcie Tanaka. She was a member of Taller Dos Ríos, in which she served as production assistant and teacher. She has participated in several collective exhibitions, and in September 2018 she held her first individual exhibition "Fosa Común" (Communal Grave). Read more about the project

Maria Alejandra Martinez

Barista and Researcher

María Alejandra studied Business Administration but became passionate about the coffee world along the way and soon involved herself in empirical research to apply the gathered knowledge to her experience as a barista. She learned the technique from Anibal Kovaleff, a teacher and coffee expert. With him, she learned about coffee profiles and brewing methods. Later, she continued her training in the United States until she came back to Lima and began working at Central, where she received the advice of Harryson Neira himself and from where, through Mater, she has been involved in research on coffee. Read more about the project

Veronica tabja


Veronica Tabja is a Peruvian nutritionist specialized in Public Nutrition and with studies on Cultural Management. Her areas of work relate to food, culture, education and the environment. She was a co-founder of Cultura Viva association and a manager with the educational program for the international exhibition Conversaciones con la Madre, among other initiatives. She currently is in charge of Mater Iniciativa’s Culture and Art area, in which she carries out collaborative projects between local and international artists and members of the communities surrounding Mil. She is also a co-founder of FIX Cold Pressed Juice, a company engaged in the production of organic juices. Read more about the project

daan overgaag


Daan Overgaag is a Dutch anthropologist and chef. He got an AA degree on Liberal Arts & Sciences with a major in Anthropology at Utrecht. Since he was 17 he began learning about cuisine. At the same time, he worked in several Dutch restaurants. As a part of his final dissertation, he travelled to Peru to write his thesis in cultural anthropology, jointly with Jesper Nass, discussing the social impact of Peruvian cuisine. Inspired by the potential of cuisine as a vehicle for change, and grounded in the connection between anthropology and cuisine, he is developing a tracking system for para Mater Iniciativa. Read more about the project

Kevin Uy


Kevin Uy is Filipino and of Chinese ancestry. From an early age, he became passionate about cooking, without knowing that this would be his path later. He studied to be a chef in the Philippines and decided to pursue a master degree in Gastronomic Sciences at the Basque Culinary Center. This decision brought him to undertake an internship with Mater Iniciativa at Mil. Here he became very interested in studying the proteins that are consumed in the Andes, and this is how he develops a meat natural ager. He currently works at Central's kitchen. Read more about the project

Shu fujita


Shu Fujita is Japanese. He graduated as a cultural anthropologist from the University of Tokyo and is a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the same university. He currently carries out an investigation on Contemporary Peruvian Cuisine at Mater Iniciativa and, from the inside, he has also been researching on the daily kitchen workflow and the creation of dishes as a social phenomenon. Read more about the project

Manuel Acurio

Agricultural Engineer

Agronomist born in Cuzco and graduated for Universidad Nacional de Cusco. He has also undertook master studies in Agribusiness and Food Management. He has over 12 years of experience advising on crops, and in recent years he has been focused on small-scale family and community agricultural business. His master dissertation addresses custard apple cultivation at Huanangui and the impact it had on the development of that village. Manuel currently directs the works at Mil's farms and advises on the implementation of production techniques chiming with local methods and knowledge. Read more about the project

Lio Porras

Drinks Researcher

Lio Porras is a barista and cuisine and culinary art technician. He always has sought to make his proposal to have a Peruvian sense. He currently works at Mayo, our bar, experimenting with products and techniques that are inspired by the four Peruvian natural ecosystems. In Mater Iniciativa he searched for a Peruvian historical record on alcoholic drinks and found Chicha de Jora (corn beer chicha), which is an ancient drink full of tradition. He aims to stylish and places value on the chicha de jora through research work. Read more about the project

Divesh Baxani Kamal


Divesh Baxani has a PhD from Cardiff University (UK) and a BSc in Biomedical Engineering from the University College of London. He is a research scientist experienced in biomedical sciences and biochemical engineering. He currently serves as a research associate at Cardiff University. While studying for his PhD, he developed an encapsulated droplet system using microfluidic techniques that resulted in a patent and a paper. During his brief stay at Cuzco, he studied the different types of mushrooms that inhabit the Andes and with which he expects to deploy a system to preserve the Andean ecosystem in the future. Read more about the project

Saw Ponthier


After graduating from Environmental Studies at Davidson College in the United States, Sierra was awarded a Watson Fellowship to travel for a year researching into findings for her project about leadership in the restaurant industry. She worked with chefs and culinary organizations in Ireland, Morocco, New Zeeland and Peru, to understand how chefs and restaurants can lead on issues such as sustainability, women's empowerment, cultural preservation and community development. In the future, Sierra hopes to continue working on finding ways to extend the boundaries of what restaurants can do for local and global communities. Read more about the project

Jesper Nass / Daan Overgaag


Dutch anthropologist and cultural sociologist. He travelled to Peru, jointly with Daan Overgaag, to conduct research for his degree thesis in Cultural Anthropology at the Utrecht University. His work is focused on Peruvian cuisine as a tool for social development. Jesper has been an intern at the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam ethnographic museum, where he helped in the setting of an exhibition on cultural biodiversity. He is currently finishing his master’s degree in Arts and Cultural Management. Read more about the project

Rebecca Wolffe / Francesco D'Angelo


Rebecca is an explorer with National Geographic, she has over 6 years of experience in research and project management in the fields of health, agricultural and climate change adaptation, both in Peru and Canada. She has studied the relation between the human being and design and has collaborated with physicians and aboriginal leaders in the improvement of Canada´s healthcare system. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in Food Sovereignty and Health at British Columbia University. Her work is focused on analysing spiritual beliefs in the Amazon forest and how they relate to perceptions of health and wellbeing. Read more about the project


Miguel López

Chef and Electronic Engineer

Miguel Lopez is an electrical engineer by the Universidad del País Vasco and a chef by the Basque Culinary Center. He speaks 4 languages and is passionate about research. He has worked in several restaurants in Bilbao. He did his internship at the well-known Brazilian restaurant Lasai, and came to Mil to write his undergraduate thesis on wild plants. Read more about the project

Giulia Pompilj

Textile Design

She was born in Rome in 1991 and, from an early age, she felt attracted to know different cultures. In 2010, she began her artistic career at the Academy of Arts and New Technologies in Rome, where she graduated as a product designer. Later, she was selected for a degree in the Eindhoven Design Academy in the Netherlands where her interest in natural fibres and traditional techniques was born. During those 4 years of school, she travelled to Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Peru to expand her knowledge about local techniques and develop projects based on sustainable fashion. Read more about the project