Chef Atala promotes Brazilian with Amazon ingredients

Tue Mar 3, 2009 6:05am EST
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By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

MILAN (Reuters Life!) - Brazilian Alex Atala used to mix music as a DJ. Now he mixes indigenous Brazilian ingredients at his Sao Paulo restaurant, ranked by experts among the world's best eateries.

The bearded, tattooed chef is keen to promote local ingredients, using European techniques to make dishes such as mushroom consomme with Amazon aromas, breaded oysters with tapioca marinade and banana ravioli with maracuja and tangerine sauce.

He says every ingredient has the same value -- sardines and manioc are just as important as foie gras and truffles.

Of Palestinian origin, Atala began his cooking career when he was 19 at a hotel management school in Belgium.

He opened his restaurant D.O.M., an acronym coming from a Latin phrase meaning "God is Great and Maximum" in 1999 and the eatery was the only restaurant in Latin America that made Britain's Restaurant magazine Top 50 List last year, ranking no. 40.

Atala spoke to Reuters on the sidelines of the Identita Golose food forum in Milan last month.

Q: How would you describe your cuisine?

A: "Brazilian, but more than anything it is a cuisine of product, where Brazilian ingredients are the protagonists.   Continued...