Is Brazilian food the next big thing?
Date: 05-12-2019 published by Nick Baines
Up until now Brazilian food in the UK has mainly been focussed around all you can eat churrascarias, but that could be about to change.
Food trends tend to come in waves, whether it’s the gourmet burger that dominated the food landscape a decade ago, or the more recent occurrence of accurate Mexican street food like al pastor tacos. Some create a more lasting affect than others, the advent of ‘new Nordic cuisine’ pushed by Noma’s Rene Redzepi was responsible for chefs re-thinking their approach to how they prepare and cook ingredients in the kitchen. This played into a wider focus on foraging and localism, and an army of cooks wandering the woodlands in pursuit of obscure mushrooms, weeds and mosses.
Right now though, the region that’s showing the most promise for new food frontiers, is Brazil. With two of the country’s most highly lauded chefs, Manoella Buffara and Rodrigo Oliveira opening restaurants in New York and LA respectively, now is the time for Amazonian ingredients and cooking techniques to come to the fore.
From utilising ingredients like palm hearts, to the down-home flavours of farofa, Brazilian cuisine has been working up to the global stage for some years. Alex Atala, chef patron of Sao Paolo’s D.O.M, among other restaurants, has championed Brazilian and Amazonian produce for some time, championing then a global platform such as MAD Symposium and The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, or which D.O.M ranks highly. The Brazilian chef has also facilitated better farming practices and helped spur a demand for exotic fruits that would normally fly well below the radar.
Coxinha is perhaps one of the most well known Brazilian snack foods that we can expect to see at street food markets in the UK soon. The small nugget of fried dough is filled with shredded meat such as chicken, beef or crab. Meanwhile, the rise of good quality empadas are an easy win assimilating the Cornish pasty, and the more widely South American empanada.
Bolinhos are another ready to eat item that could be another big-hitter for food service, a deep fried snack made from rice, bean or flour dough filled with cheese or meat – a winner for bar menus and food trucks alike.
Picanha is a pretty esteemed cut of beef which gets a lot of attention from live fire cooking a la Francis Mallman. This cut is already finding it’s way onto steak restaurant menus and theatrical open fire pop-ups.
It’s a well known fact that the late Anthony Bourdain continually praised Brazil for its high quality cooks. The region of Minas Gerais was even the focus of one of his CNN Parts Unknown episodes with the sole focus of showcasing how it nurtures the best chefs in the world.
As restaurateurs, chefs and flexible street food vendors stay on the look out for where the next wave of food influence will come from, they’d do well to focus their attentions on Brazil. From all you can eat barbecued churrasco, to the more veggie and vegan friendly farofa, the food of this nation is full of life, soul and bags of potential.
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