Born in Tokyo, Saiko Izawa moved with her family to Brazil as a teenager and the resulting blend of cultures turned her passion for cooking into a great adventure. Now, at A Casa do Porco (House of the Hog) in São Paulo, she has turned her passion into her profession, earning a reputation not only as the best in her country but also in Latin America.
Izawa remembers being in love with the pastry arts as a child, when she practised in her family kitchen. At 10, still in Japan, she received a gift of an electric oven and a cookbook and proceeded to make every recipe in the book. She thrived on her family’s reactions and was motivated to start a collection of cookbooks, allowing her to practise further. She also harvested her own small fruit and vegetable garden and began foraging for wild herbs in the mountains.
While her love of food and cooking began in Japan, it was in Brazil that Izawa started her relationship with bakery and the pastry arts. After classical training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and bakery training at Comus in Tokyo, she went on to work at Le Maurice in Paris, D.O.M. in São Paulo, El Celler de Can Roca in Girona and Pomodori and Attimo in São Paulo.
It was at Pomodori that Izawa met chef-owner Jefferson Rueda, and the meeting was one that would change the course of her career. Forming a strong partnership in the kitchen, both Rueda and Izawa later left Pomodori to work together at Attimo. In 2015, with Izawa as pastry chef, Rueda opened A Casa do Porco, which went on to become the Highest New Entry into Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 at No.24 and has now risen to No.8 in the 2017 list.
Breaking the boundaries between avant-garde and countryside farm-to-table cuisine, Rueda and Izawa have combined their passions for artisan cooking, farming and unpretentious elegance on the plate. This has translated into a sweet “Dairy variety” menu using cow’s milk in various forms to go alongside Rueda’s savoury “Butcher’s” tasting menu.
Another of Izawa’s desserts is inspired by the idea of a salad and involves strawberry-celery with basil sauce and meringue, a play on the classic combination of strawberries and meringue. Izawa seeks to fuse cultures, whether Japan and Brazil or further afield. She uses mate tea to create delicate bitter notes and says there are no limits to what she will use when creating something new. Above all, she believes that desserts should be light and not too sweet, in order to achieve satisfaction at the end of a meal.
Izawa dreams of having her own dessert bar one day. With the new title of Latin America’s Best Pastry Chef under her belt, perhaps that dream isn’t too far off.
A Casa do Porco
R. Araújo 124
+55 11 3258-2578