Airports. What a drag, am I right? There’s never a seat at the Sammy Hagar/KISS/Jimmy Buffet/other celebrity-centered bar, the coffee’s expensive, the power outlets are scarce, and you can’t even get 40 frozen piranhas through customs in peace.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Virgilio Martinez, chef-owner at Peru’s Central, one of the world’s top-rated restaurants, was stopped at Los Angeles International Airport for five hours after customs agents were confused by the 40 frozen, vacuum-sealed piranhas he brought with him. The fish were intended (and, spoiler alert, ultimately used) for the Times’ monthlong food festival, Food Bowl. But who knew, TSA agents aren’t accustomed to finding many, many frozen fish in luggage.
As Martinez, who was featured in Netflix’s Chef’s Table, told the Times:
“I was extremely obsessed about bringing piranhas because we serve piranhas in the Amazon at Central, so I said, ‘Guys, why not take a risk to bring piranhas to L.A.?’... You probably have preconceived notions about piranhas because of movies, but for me, piranhas, we go fish them.”
Ultimately, Martinez had to show agents his plans for the fish to convince them to let him go, and that did eventually happen. He used the meat to make a salad at Vespertine, and served the dried skins in the piranha heads at Somni.
So, PSA: Budget extra time if you plans to bring many, many frozen fish through customs.