Food with Mark Bittman: Manu Buffara
Community gardens in action, opening a restaurant in NYC, and the time she (accidentally) fermented her clothes
Today’s guest on Food is, unequivocally, what you would call a fancy chef. Her food is elegant and thoughtful, she loves sourcing ingredients in thoughtful ways, and she has working relationships with her local fishermen. Much of what she does can be seen as a template for how restaurants–notably, yes, upscale restaurants–should be moving forward.
I’m talking about Manu Buffara, the chef/owner of Manu, in Curitiba, Brazil, a restaurant she opened 12 years ago. It is the first ever in Brazil headed up by a woman chef to serve only a tasting menu, a menu comprised of 60% plant-based ingredients. In fact, the only meat Manu serves is lamb, and only for a small portion of the year, when she can get it from a family member’s farm.
What I found striking in our interview with Manu was that so much of how Manu works, how the restaurant works, seems so quaint and intimate, and yet the restaurant is internationally acclaimed. Not an easy feat. Add to that the fact that this year Manu will be opening up a new spot in New York City, in Chelsea – exciting stuff for those of us nearby. Plus, her book is out today, and of course we talk about that too; it’s called Manu: Recipes and Stories from My Brazil.
We didn’t know Manu ahead of this interview, which is the case with many of our interviews, and you never know what to expect when that’s the case. But this was an energetic and fun and diverse and wide-ranging conversation, and I’m so glad we got to meet Manu and hear about the work she’s doing.
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