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Chef Helena Rizzo

Magazine Flavour Interviews | 11 May 2018

COLOUR AND PASSION

 

Helena Rizzo was born in 1978, in Porto Alegre, Brazil. She moved to São Paulo at the age of 18, to “experience life outside her parents` house”. She modelled, waited tables, and was an apprentice in the kitchen of a few restaurants. At the age of 21, she traveled to Europe and it was in Girona, Spain, after an unforgettable dinner, that Helena discovered in cooking “a form of artistic expression”. In 2006, she opened the restaurant Maní in São Paulo that she manages up till today. In 2014, she was considered the best woman chef in the world, by The Restaurant magazine.

 

At what point in your life did you realize that it was in the kitchen that you felt happy?

I got involved in professional cooking by accident. I always enjoyed cooking, I sold cakes at school. I began to cook professionally when I was still a model, in São Paulo, I was about 20 years old, I did so make ends meet. It worked out, I got a job in a few of the town´s restaurants, I ran the kitchen of one of them, and I did an internship in Italy. However, despite enjoying cookery, I found the work boring and very strict at times. Cooking, in the 90s, was very vertically organized. Until, during a trip to Spain, I had dinner at the Celler de Can Roca, in Girona, and left the restaurant marveled. I did everything I could to get an internship there, and I believe it was the experience that most influenced me as a cook. There, I was able to work with extra instinct and passion. I realized how broad the gastronomy universe was and how it could `flirt` with magic and feelings, memories and experiences.

 

Is there a lot of art in your dishes?

For me, art is not in the dish, but in the relationship that the person who eats it creates with a particular food. When I think of art and food, I think, in that sense, of art as perception. From whatever that dish communicates to who eats: memories, feelings, free association. Like a book, a film, a song.
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Featured in ROOF 14

 

©Roberto Seba

©Sérgio Coimbra

©Lufe Gomes

©Roberto Seba

©Roberto Seba

©Lufe Gomes

©Roberto Seba

©Roberto Seba

©Roberto Seba

©Roberto Seba

                        

                                             ©Sérgio Coimbra                                                                 ©Roberto Seba


Text: Isadora Faustino

Helena Rizzo

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