The distance between the capitals of Brazil and Canada is over 7,000 kilometers. But during the latest edition of Sial, one of the world’s leading food and beverage fairs, the two countries came together at a tasty meeting point: the cuisine.
At the 2nd Brazilian Gastronomy Week in Canada, organized by CCBC in parallel to the event, the Rio de Janeiro-born, São Paulo-based Mariana Valentini led a special menu with national ingredients at Chef Doug Penfold’s Cava restaurant, one of the most recognized in the country.
To talk about the experience, Mariana, who has had a cooking show with other chefs on Fox channel, welcomed us at her restaurant Brodo, in the neighborhood Itaim Bibi, in the city of São Paulo. She says that, in addition to the menu that was available to customers at Cava, exclusive dinners for Brazilian producers and potential local buyers were organized, with items that were being promoted by the Brazilian delegation.
According to participants of the Brazilian mission at Sial, these dinners were essential for Canadian customers to taste and understand in practice the possibilities of using the ingredients. The business opportunities for these products have always been in evidence.
“The guests were impressed by something I tried to demonstrate, that is the versatility in the uses of food, such as the heart of palm,” says Mariana, whose connection with Canada is of family. Her late paternal grandmother was born in Toronto and migrated to Brazil as a child.
When even cashew can be surprising
The versatility to which the chef refers also appeared in the cashew jam taken to Sial by CCBC, which Mariana turned into chutney, accompanied by tapioca dices – an entrance of one of the menus. “Cashew was a big surprise for Canadians, who often know the nut, but don’t pay attention to the fact that it is a fruit,” she says.
For the Canadian market, the production and planting process counts a lot, respecting the environment and the conditions of the workforce. This is a public open to new things, with a special preference for organic and natural ingredients, which favors gems such as açaí and cupuaçu from the Amazon. “Brazilian cuisine brings freshness to the Canadian menu, with our diversity of vegetables, fruits, and roots,” says the chef, who praised the quality of local salmon and emphasized the frequent presence of smoked products in Canadian recipes.
In Cava’s backstage
According to host country etiquette, Mariana did not leave everything to the last minute. As a visitor in Cava, the chef arrived in Canada a few days in advance, which she believes was essential to getting to know her workspace and colleagues. During the professional exchange period, Mariana, in her own words, “was all in.”
She worked eight hours a day, also helping to set up the original menu of the busy restaurant, where making a reservation is not the easiest task. “I consider it a great honor and responsibility to represent Brazil in a country for which I have great affection and a strong connection,” she says.
Featuring Iberian and Latin American-influenced dishes, Cava has been opened for over 10 years in Toronto and is often listed as one of Canada’s best restaurants. Its chef, Doug Penfold, also owns Chabrol, a French restaurant.
The 2nd Brazilian Gastronomy Week in Canada was held between April 30 and May 4. In addition to the special menu and two exclusive dinners for mission participants and potential buyers at Cava, the Week hosted another exclusive dinner at Le Milsa, a Brazilian Steakhouse in Montreal.
Check out one of the menu options presented at these events:
– Starter, main course, and dessert.
– Brazilian appetizers sampler with 3 dips (banana vinagrete, biquinho pepper marmalade, and parsley pesto with cashew nuts).
– Pupunha heart of palm rolls filled with creamy mushrooms, served with kale crisp and turmeric puree.
– Tambaqui fish ribs with guava barbecue sauce.
– Braised pork tenderloin marinated in cachaça, garlic, and herbs with salty granola crust, spaghetti made with pupunha heart of palm and mini onions baked in pequi oil (Brazilian cerrado fruit).
– Churros with paçoca (specialty peanut candy) crumbs.
– Brazilian ice cream duo – açaí and cupuaçu (amazon fruits) dark Brazilian chocolate ganache, granola, and chocolates.
– Canadian cheese sampler with Brazilian marmalades.
– Coffee with Brazilian sweet popcorns