Today’s Special: The Brazilian pioneer of culinary sustainability
Our new book profiles Manoella 'Manu' Buffara, the chef applying permaculture to fine dining
Few chefs have gone from farm to table in quite the same way as Manoella “Manu” Buffara. “Born in 1983 to a farming family in the city of Maringa in southern Brazil, Buffara’s inspiration as a conservationist comes largely from her father, who managed an ecosystem of goats, cows, corn, and other crops,” explains our new book, Today’s Special. “Growing up on a farm taught her the importance of honouring the land around her. And her grandmother solidified young Manu’s future as a chef by showing her the ropes in the kitchen and, through her recipes, how to use the fruits of the family’s labour.”
Buffara is one of one hundred promising new chefs singled out by a panel of 20 culinary masters in Today’s Special. It was Dominique Crenn, patron chef of the three Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant, Atelier Crenn, who put Buffara forward for the book, perhaps because Crenn also took her family’s agricultural background and used it to inform her culinary career.
“Buffara moved to Italy for cooking school, where she ended up in the kitchens of Noma and Alinea prior to venturing out on her own," explains our new book. “With Manu’s 2011 debut in the Brazilian city of Curitiba, Buffara did much more than just open a restaurant: The modest ten-seat space belies what she and her team have set out to achieve both within and beyond its walls. To source products for the restaurant, she gathered an army of local producers from around the state of Paraná and literally pollinated Curitiba by establishing thousands of beehives and planting nearly one hundred community gardens in otherwise abandoned areas. Beyond the plate, she concentrates her efforts on the kitchen’s sustainability and waste minimization. And with her tasting menu of locally influenced bites inspired by her grandfather, she put an area primarily known for its urban development and industrialism on the global fine-dining scene’s radar, all while sharing her passion for gardening and waste minimization with thousands of families in the area.”
Diners unable to make it to Curitiba can recreate some of Buffara’s recipes, such as octopus, shiso and avocado, and cured beef in yerba maté, by ordering a copy of Today’s Special here. Meanwhile, you can check back soon for news of Buffara’s appearance alongside fellow up-and-coming culinary sensation Diana Dávila at one of our forthcoming virtual events.