José Barrattino, executive chef of the restaurant at Hotel Emiliano in São Paulo, Brazil, is guest chef at Skylon in London's Southbank Centre and has created a special Brazilian menu for Festival Brazil that runs until 5 September. Katherine Alano went to find out more.
Caterer What brings you to Festival Brazil?
José Barrattino I was approached by Skylon via a friend to work on a menu that would remain for the three months of the festival. The event celebrates Brazilian culture in presentations, exhibitions, sculpture, music and food.
Caterer Can you tell us about the menu?
JB We have three menus for each part of Skylon: the bar, grill and fine-dining restaurant. On the fine-dining menu I am cooking what I serve in the restaurant in Brazil. This includes roast lamb with Brazilian spices, corn grits and the native Amazonian honey, and our award-winning dessert, warm banana torte and açai sorbet.
Caterer What are you doing in the grill?
JB In the grill I have tried to bring traditional tastes from across Brazil, which has influences from Portugal and Africa after the colonisation. We have coastal dishes such as casquinha de siri (bell pepper, coconut milk and crab meat shell) "au gratin" which you always find being sold by the beaches. We also offer a tasting of traditional coconut desserts and pastries, which has a lot of influences from Portugal. In the bar, we have traditional Brazilian bar snacks such as pastel de bacalhau (deep-fried dough stuffed with cod fish) and escondidinho carne seca (jerked beef with cassava cream).
Caterer How would you describe your food?
JB Brazilian fine-dining. We use classic and modern cooking techniques. In Brazil we have a lot of street food that we try to translate to a fine-dining restaurant. We always find ways to adapt Brazilian ingredients.
Caterer What ingredients are typical to Brazil?
JB In typical Brazilian cooking you will find rice, black beans, okra and dende oil, made from red coconut. But there is still a lot to discover.
Caterer Where do you source your ingredients?
JB In 2008 I started to look for good local suppliers close to the restaurant (within 250km of São Paulo). I found this great farm, Fazenda Pereiras, and we have been working with them to develop and grow native ingredients and bring them back to the professional kitchen.
Now Fazenda Pereiras not only delivers the produce to me, but he delivers to hotels and restaurants in the whole of São Paulo.
Caterer What do you think of UK food culture?
JB In the markets in Brazil you still only see one kind of tomato, pear, apple - I was amazed when I came over to the UK to see so many varieties of fruit and vegetable. You just don't get that in Brazil. So I am trying to develop the food and educate people in the good food that Brazil has, to educate them to shop better and buy produce locally. As chefs, we are always looking for the next thing. Brazilian food has a huge personality - I want to get that message out there and this festival is the perfect place.