Vanessa dos Reis
Chief reason to visit: The 2018 Miele One To Watch, led by chef and activist Manoella Buffara now deservedly sits on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list itself. The 20-seat restaurant in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná forms the epicentre of myriad food projects led by the charismatic 35-year-old, known by all as Manu. Buffara and her enthusiastic team serve a tasting menu of elegant, intricate dishes such as a corn macaron with black onion, leeks in mussel sauce with lardo, and an ‘oyster’ dish of native strawberries and lime raspadinha. The menu showcases the region’s vegetables, herbs and seafood in particular, sourced via a network of artisanal producers as well as foraging. The resulting dishes are frequently eaten with the hands in traditional fashion.
On the beverage front: The sophisticated drinks pairings employ fermentation techniques passed down from her Italian grandmother and honed during a formative stint at Noma more than a decade ago to create juices, kombucha, craft beers and more. The food-and-drink combinations provide a deep dive into the region’s unique flavours.
More than just a restaurant: The chef opened Manu back in 2012 and has since built up a loyal family of local suppliers, many of whom she has helped develop from scratch into sustainable businesses. She also works extensively with the city of Curitiba on social projects around food, from an urban beehive initiative to educating children on vegetables, from installing city farms to spearheading local litter, water and waste reduction campaigns.
Voice for change: Intelligent, articulate and passionate, it’s no surprise that Buffara has become increasingly in-demand as a speaker and campaigner on food production models internationally, including delivering a keynote address at a recent edition of #50BestTalks.
What’s next: A restaurant in New York’s Chelsea district, set to open in early 2020. It will be named Ella – the second half of the chef’s name.