São Paulo, Brazil
Founded in 2018 by young chef Cesar Costa, Corrutela is Brazil’s most pioneering restaurant in terms of sustainability. Everything here is geared towards protecting the planet, from solar energy and zero waste to sourcing only seasonal produce from local farmers. In a country where recycling is not yet commonplace and waste production is among the biggest in the world, Corrutela is inspiring a new generation of chefs and consumers to think more carefully about how they approach food.
While working in classic French restaurants in his early twenties, Costa noticed the excessive plastic use and the quantity of food that went to waste after ingredients were sliced into perfect cubes for aesthetic reasons. He then worked at Alice Waters’s game changing California restaurant, Chez Panisse, and discovered a much more sustainable approach to hospitality. After a stint at Christian Puglisi’s Relae in Copenhagen, he returned to São Paulo to open what would be Brazil’s first fully sustainability-focused and zero-waste restaurant.
With an industrial-chic interior that includes exposed overhead pipes, dark grey walls and an enormous silver composting machine in the entranceway, Corrutela is about as far as it gets from classic French, and that’s the way Costa likes it – with everything stripped back and on display, he hopes to educate diners about what goes into their meal and how they can eat more sustainably. Upstairs, there’s a stone mill used to grind corn to make buttery polenta, and there are solar panels on the roof.
There’s no tasting at Corrutela – just a short, seasonal menu of simple, vegetable-led dishes using 100% Brazilian produce from small farmers. Signature dishes include a variety of grilled squash and courgettes to quinoa, or rice bowls with organic vegetables and a poached egg. Everything is housemade, from sourdough bread to chocolate made from cacao grown using regenerative techniques, and diners are given information about where their food was sourced.
And it wouldn’t be a truly sustainable business without a stellar approach to staffing, which is something to which Costa pays utmost attention, with all staff receiving at least the minimum wage as well as in-depth training so that they understand the important causes behind the restaurant. With equal attention to ingredients, environment, community, staffing and education earning it a score of 78% in the Food Made Good assessment, Corrutela is a natural winner of the Flor de Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award for Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021: Pasado y Futuro.
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