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Brazil was colonised by the Portuguese, who were joined later by many other nationalities. Of course, the country already had an indigenous population and the result has been a division of many different cultures, religions and habits.
Even though Europeans brought the French way of fine dining, and their own recipes, the use of native Brazilian ingredients was unavoidable. So began the first unintentional fusion process and adaptation of European classic dishes to the influence of the new surroundings. But this was only one route towards Brazilian cuisine. Many other parallel processes took place over the last few centuries, which is why Brazil’s melting pot of cultures results in such an unorthodox culinary history.
In the 1970s, Paulo Martins, who died last year, began the movement that’s inspired many chefs to find their own culinary identity. This was a time when Brazilians didn’t accept that native produce could be considered fine ingredients. Wild produce couldn’t be found in the markets, and it was considered chic to eat like the French!
Following in the steps of Martin, two French chefs who fell in love with Brazil decided to adapt their dishes with native Brazilian produce and study the use of wild ingredients. They were Laurant Suaudeau and Claude Troisgros (from the famous Troisgros family of Roanne). In the 1990s, Alex Atala continued on the same path until his cuisine, using Amazonian ingredients, became internationally recognised.
Today, new stars such as Helena Rizzo (in the picture), Rodrigo Oliveira and Roberta Sudbrack are going a step further, consolidating the New Brazilian Cuisine and integrating the story of immigrants and the flavour of the terroir into their dishes. A new and exciting chapter in Brazilian Cuisine has begun...