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9 Questions With Alex Atala
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9 Questions With Alex Atala

The superstar of São Paulo, The World’s Most Influential Chef, on the perfect breakfast table, his actual dream job, and his new favourites from all around the world.

What’s the secret of D.O.M’s success (11th in the list of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants”) for you?

– It’s all in the ingredients, those unique to Brazil, it is the taste of the Amazons; the rain forest. D.O.M is what Brazil tastes like.

What do you love most about being a chef?

– Inside the kitchen l love the pressure and need to be perfect at speed. Outside of the kitchen experiencing the world as a chef is exciting, it has pulled my life in many wonderful directions.

If you were no longer a chef, what would you be?

– One of the Marvel Fantastic Four…

You were once a DJ. Do you see that experience as useful in your current career as a chef?

– There are no similarities between being a rock star and being a chef, but between music and being a chef- yes. There has to be a balance with what you want to do and what the public want to hear or eat and I must create the right atmosphere to deliver what I want to my audience.

What do you listen when cooking?

– I usually don’t listen to music when I cook, however I often become inspired by Heitor Villa-Lobos who was a Brazilian composer, described as the single most significant creative figure in 20th-century Brazilian art music.

Alex Atala at work in D.O.M., São Paulo, the number one restaurant in South America, celebrated for championing 'gastronomia Brasileira' Photo Credit: Edu Simões / Observer Food Monthly, 2013

Alex Atala at work in D.O.M, São Paulo, the number one restaurant in South America, celebrated for championing ‘gastronomia Brasileira’ Photo Credit: Edu Simões / Observer Food Monthly, 2013

Who would you invite to a dinner party?

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. He was a French philosopher. His famous work, Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste), had a profound effect on me.

What’s your ideal breakfast?

– Coffee with milk and bread with butter. Very simple but you have different contrasts of flavour and texture: hot, cold, sweet, salty, soft…unctuous!

Inside the kitchen l love the pressure and need to be perfect at speed. Outside of the kitchen experiencing the world as a chef is exciting, it has pulled my life in many wonderful directions.

Name few hot restaurants you love most recently.

– I would definitely mention the Castaño Brothers from the Amazon region. They do regional food with excellent ingredients and execution. I’m also a big fan of the cuisine of the Josean Martinez Alija in Bilbao, Spain. And undoubtedly the Mexican Pujol, one of the greatest restaurants in the world.

What is your favourite dish from all around the world?

– I can’t choose a favourite dish. Gastronomy is too plural for that. The beauty of the gastronomy comes from the diversity, just like in music.  – [Revised, and re-edited from an interview by Ali Tufan Koc]

 

Cover Photo Credit: Courtesy of D.O.M


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