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São Paulo, Brazil
Porto Alegre-born chef Helena Rizzo worked as a model, waitress and caterer before a meal at El Celler de Can Roca in Spain revealed to her that food could be much more than daily grind. After gaining kitchen experience in Europe, she moved to São Paulo in 2006 to open Maní, serving contemporary, artistic cuisine rooted in iconic Brazilian ingredients – and won the title of The World’s Best Female Chef in 2014.
Rizzo’s sophisticated creations include a Japanese-inspired mochi made with rice dough, jasmine rice and adzuki, served with edible flowers; or the day’s best catch accompanied by rice terrine, crumbs, pirão (a manioc and fish stock polenta) and chilli oil. The restaurant is set in a quaint little former house with large wooden doors in São Paulo’s leafy Jardim Paulistano suburb.