In the city of Curitiba in southern Brazil, Manu has been leading the charge on building a more sustainable culinary community extending beyond the restaurant’s guests. Led by Manoella ‘Manu’ Buffara, who was named Latin America’s Best Female Chef 2022, it presents an unparalleled dedication to the environment, producers and people of Curitiba and beyond.
Inside the restaurant, Manu’s green initiatives are second to none. 80 per cent of all ingredients used in the restaurant are exclusively sourced from its wide network of small farms and artisans located within 300 kilometres of the restaurant – many of them evolved from cottage producers into full sustainable businesses with Manu’s help. Beef has not been served since 2019 due to the ecological impacts of cattle farming, with the menu now comprising 60 per cent plant-based dishes. Every dish has had its ecological impact thoroughly considered before being served.
Buffara also understands that human sustainability is just as much of a priority as the environmental factors. The restaurant only operates from Wednesday to Saturday to promote a healthier work-life balance for its staff, and also encourages frequent visits to suppliers, where they can take part in wellness activities, such as horse riding, yoga classes and relaxation sessions.
Beyond the walls of the restaurant’s dining room, the wider Curitiban community is also reaping the benefits of Manu’s unfaltering efforts. Prior to the restaurant’s opening in 2011, fresh fish was almost impossible to find in the city. Today, there are an abundance of outlets, thanks to the supply lines created by the restaurant. Buffara also leads the Mulheres do Bem organisation, which aids and sustains the local homeless population in Curitiba with 400 healthy meals per week, alongside the Manu Buffara Institute, where she champions the development of the city’s most socially vulnerable communities.
Manu’s holistic approach to sustainability has created a movement larger than the sum of its parts. What may have started – and continues to be – a positive philosophy guiding the Brazilian restaurant has metamorphosed into a movement that enlightens and empowers everyone it touches. There could be no more deserving recipient of the Flor de Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award 2023.
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