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Brazilian-born Helena Rizzo has been named 2014
Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef.
Here’s our low-down on a name to look out for in the future…
What’s her background?
Having worked with many of the most influential chefs in Brazil, Rizzo did stints at several top restaurants around Italy and Spain, including El Celler de Can Roca near Girona in Spain, which is currently considered the best restaurant in the world according to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. She met her chef husband along the way, and they opened Mani restaurant together in São Paulo in 2006 – it’s here that she made her name.
What makes Mani special?
Rizzo has been widely praised for her experimental dishes and she makes use of many modern techniques that you might associate with Heston Blumenthal or Ferran Adrià. But everything she does is also firmly rooted in her Brazilian heritage. Rizzo says: ‘Our cuisine is directly associated with our personal histories, our memories and backgrounds, and with the way we perceive today's world and everyday life.’
What are her signature dishes?
Her most famous dish is probably manioc (similar to cassava) with coconut milk and tucupi froth (extracted from a Brazilian root vegetable). She is also known for a clever interpretation of Brazil's national dish of feijoada where a concentrated version of the bean dish is sealed in a bubble of gelatine in order to look like a bean itself.
And what’s next for her?
Rizzo tells us: ‘We are opening another restaurant in São Paulo, on the terrace of an incredible bookstore. We’ll be serving simple cuisine focused around basic ingredients, and we´ll also have a café serving sandwiches, pies and tasty little treats.’
Any chance of her coming to London?
‘At the moment we have no plans to open in other countries, I have no idea how I would manage that,’ says Rizzo. ‘But I am looking forward to getting to know the London restaurant scene more during my next visit.’
The Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef award celebrates the work of an exceptional female chef whose cooking excites the toughest of critics. Previous winners have included Elena Arzak (of London’s Ametsa with Arzak Instruction) and Nadia Santini.