Brazil

As almost anywhere around the world, Brazil has its local Masterchef version. A new season finished recently, and a well-known young chef reflected upon the competition in TV shows and what it means to cook and eat together in real life.

I don’t own a television for more than 3 years, but before that, on the last years of my TV, I mostly watched movies and foodie shows.

I honestly enjoyed Masterchef for a while and the stories behind the competitors.

Their passion, roots, creativity. People that had a bit of training mixed with amateur talented cooks that learned preparing food wrapped around their mother’s apron in the kitchen.

Different accents, spices… I followed, waited for the next episode anxiously, cheered.

But before I broke up with TV in general, I had lost most of my interest for Masterchef and similarities.  And the reason for that is exactly what this brazilian chef commented on Social Media.

Raphael Despirite is the chef of Marcel, a family restaurant in São Paulo. I interviewed him for my foodie column published in a local newspaper when he was just a kid breaking the laws of tradition and experimenting a little.

He was already very generous, nice and super talented.

He added loads of personality to this establishment without losing respect for its history. He also has a modern and adventurous supperclub. I have always been a huge fan of his work and his authentic philosophy.

Raphael reminds us that competing is not part of the kitchen routine. Cooking with and for friends is not about who chops the onion faster, or who exhibits super chef skills with foams and whatever.

Cooking, he says and I endorse, agree and scream: Cooking is an act of generosity.

Serving someone a dish that you cooked: a gesture of love.

More than techniques or the type of dish being served, cooking and eating is a matter of celebration,  special occasion of happiness for whom is at the table.

“Cooking can be less stressful, more relaxed, fun. It has to bring people together. Needs humor and love”, Raphael says. And oh boy, he is right!

When I was developing Cooknst during my Masters at the University, a professor motivated me to get in touch with one of those reality shows who were in town shooting an episode with locals.

I sent them an email asking for more information and telling a little bit about me and the project. Soon they called and started to ask questions about my style of cooking.

I don’t remember the conversation in details, but what got into my memory were questions about my competitive spirit – do you like to win? Are you a controller in the kitchen? No. No. NO.

Of course I didn’t get in to the TV programme. And I realised why I had lost interest on those type of reality shows. They seemed more about the competition than the food itself and everything that surrounds it.

Cooknst has fundaments in the meal process and experience as a place of love, sharing, growing together. This is where it comes from, what I strongly believe. It’s the way to overcome the worst of this world.

Kiki Machado, bread maker of the Flower Power edition of the Mixed Sessions last April, wrote here that “bread is the biggest honours in terms of giving and receiving”.

For me, cooking and eating together is a moment of sharing your soul.

Pics by the superb Leo Almeida.