While waiting for Latin America's 50 Best List, meet chefs and discover restaurants from the continent. Some chefs have their restaurants in fabulous places, allowing them to escape from the heat now and again in great style. Wanderson Medeiros is one of these fortunate chefs. His restaurant, Picuí, in Maceió – is located near one of the most stunning beaches in Brazil, with light blue-green sea, white sand and 365 days of guaranteed sunshine.
Picuí is a reference not only for food lovers of the region, but for the entire country. The food celebrates the traditional dishes of the northeast region of the country: “My cuisine reflects many stories. Many of the dishes are synonymous with comfort. The classic Brazilian appetizer “pastel”, a fried thin pasty filled with cheese (or other fillings), is made by my own mother at her home. She sends them daily to Picuí, and it is a classic snack which has the taste of my childhood!” Nostalgia and the desire of Wanderson to improve quality and create more contemporary dishes are both important elements in his work. But the chef also admits that some people are not willing to accept technical improvements and modern ideas: “We sell more than three tons of ‘Carne-de-Sol’ (sun-dried meat) every month. It is the most emblematic product of our region, and people are used to eat it in a certain way. I have tried many times to do it differently, improve the texture, the flavour, but the guests prefer to have in the old fashioned way. In the end, I have to be realistic and accept situations like that! I have to listen to my guests, and take their opinions seriously. They are the most important people, and the success of my restaurant is because of their support!”
Humble, creative but also very business driven, Wanderson is one of the most successful chefs in Brazil, with not only culinary, but also great managerial skills. He graduated in Business Studies, and is also an accomplished photographer. Food photography is his hobby. Picuí was opened in 1989 as a family business, and 10 years later, Wanderson was asked by his father to take complete charge of it. He kept the classic dishes of the house, but decided to open a space on the second floor of the restaurant called ‘W Gastronômico’ where he presents his tasting menu and contemporary creations for small groups of guests. He also has a room for larger events, which he uses as a gallery space for local artists as well. On top of this a TV show is shot in the same space.