Chef Virgilio Martinez may want to leave his predatory fish at home next time.
The world-famous Peruvian chef, who was featured in Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” series, landed at Los Angeles International Airport last week with 40 vacuum-sealed, frozen piranhas in his duffel bag.
Martinez told the Los Angeles Times he was hoping to serve the fish, known for its sharp teeth and menacing look, at the LA food festival.
“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.?’ ” Martinez said to the Times, referring to his restaurant Central, in Lima, Peru.
However, his risky move got him stopped by customs agents at the airport.
Martinez said one of the customs officials asked him what was inside his bag of fish, prompting the chef to make a dry joke.
“Bones. Flesh,” Martinez said, the Times reported.
Following the joke, Martinez said customs officers took him into a private interrogation room where he was asked more questioned about what he intended to do with the piranhas.
Customs officials confirmed to Fox News that the stop was just part of a routine procedure when exotic animals are discovered in passengers' luggage.
“I took my [Central cookbook] and said, ‘Look, this is what I want to do with the piranhas.’ And he finally said, ‘Oh, wow, go ahead,’” Martinez said to the Times.
After five hours of questioning, Martinez was able to leave with his bag full of fish, which he used on a salad that night.