As a Brazilian journalist who has covered gastronomy for almost 10 years, I was astonished when I first started to hear rumors about the different restaurant groups in my home country coming together to support a bigger cause, competition making way for solidarity.
Family is a word often used in the food world, but insiders will tell you that city, country and restaurant divisions exist across gastronomy. In Brazil, coronavirus quickly changed this. With the impact of lockdowns obvious to all, the country's restaurants formed a group, a chef collective demanding protection for the 7 million people who work across the hospitality industry.
More than 300 chefs joined to pressure the government on measures such as tax exemptions, bank credit and debt relief. The action started on WhatsApp, an initiative pushed by Janaína and Jefferson Rueda, owners of Bar da Dona Onça and A Casa do Porco.
They created the “Crisis Management and Ideas” group on the messaging app with other acclaimed Brazilian chefs, such as Rafa Costa e Silva, Roberta Sudbrack, Alex Atala, Mara Salles, Bel Coelho, and Claude and Thomas Troisgros. A space to coordinate actions towards the government. The messages range from how to sanitize packaging for delivery to food donations for homeless communities and people in need.
“I called some colleagues and they all thought it was a good idea to bring together different professionals in the industry to think and discuss solutions. It is a crisis that affects all of us, small or large, independent or restaurant chains,” Janaína explained. “It's time to seek solutions for everyone.”