Famous chef transporting 40 piranhas claims he was stopped at Los Angeles airport

Chef Virgilio Martinez was eventually let go and used the sharp-toothed fish in a salad.
Image: Virgilio Martinez, chef-owner of Central restaurant in Peru.
Virgilio Martinez, chef-owner of Central restaurant in Peru.Alessandro Currarino / AP file

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By Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — A famous South American chef says he was stopped as he brought 40 piranhas in a duffel bag through Los Angeles International Airport.

Virgilio Martinez, chef-owner of Central restaurant in Peru, told the Los Angeles Times that he hoped to serve the predatory, sharp-toothed fish during an LA food festival.

Martinez was featured in the third season of the Netflix show "Chef's Table."

He says customs agents pulled him into an interrogation room last week when they found the cache of frozen, vacuum-sealed piranhas.

A famous South American chef was stopped as he brought 40 frozen piranhas in a duffel bag through Los Angeles International Airport.Raul Gallego Abellan / AP file

After five hours, the agents let Martinez through with the fish. He used them that night on a salad. The newspaper says the following night he dried the piranha skins and served them inside the piranha heads.

Piranhas are common in South American rivers.