Manuel Choqque Bravo, a fourth generation potato farmer in the Andean highlands of Chinchero, is about to perform a magic show. He lines up multiple deformed tubers, indigenous to the area best known for its proximity to Machu Picchu, and one by one slices them in half, revealing a color spectrum of intense violet and gold hues.
“People think the potato has no healthy properties, but the truth is far from that,” he says in the soft-spoken, lyrical cadence typical to his hometown. Bravo has made it his mission to resculpt the world’s view of the potato by creating unique potato hybrids—packed with nutrients and flavor—on his family’s farm.
There are countless varieties, and almost all of them have some form of natural pigmentation. What stands out with Bravo’s is the intensity, or increased pigmentation, of his colorful potatoes. It’s a result of his determination to not only preserve, but to perfect the potential of Peru’s revered crop.
But Bravo has more than potatoes to offer. His boyish face makes his inquisitive nature infectious as he describes projects that include similar transformations of mashuas and ocas, as well as a wine made by fermenting these two tubers. Bravo is the sole inventor of the beverage. In 2018, this, and his innovative potato work, garnered Bravo Summum’s prestigious “Producer of the Year” award, Peru’s Oscars of the culinary world.