Manoella ‘Manu’ Buffara
Manu’s metamorphosis: Credited for putting the southern Brazilian town of Curitiba on the gastronomic map, Manu was first named the One To Watch in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018. Since then, chef-owner Manoella ‘Manu’ Buffara has only strengthened her culinary expertise, growing her reputation on the global stage and winning the title of Latin America’s Best Female Chef in 2022. Her tasting menu, Metamorfose, reflects the growth and maturity of her cuisine since opening the restaurant in 2012.
Giving back: Manu’s success is partly thanks to its owner’s commitment to engaging and supporting the local producers who fuel her 11-course tasting menu. Far from being ‘just’ a fine dining chef, she consistently gives back to the community, building urban gardens, installing beehives and transforming abandoned parts of Curitiba into areas where people can feed themselves, while empowering them to waste less food. It’s all part of a philosophy that earned the restaurant the Flor de Caña Sustainable Restaurant Award 2023.
What’s on the menu? Two thirds of Manu’s degustation is now vegetable-based, with key dishes including cauliflower – which might come with peanut, bottarga and passionfruit – and a showstopping carrot with levain and fermented cassava flour that proves a meal needn’t end with meat. That said, you’ll still find sustainable local seafood such as scallops and lamb from the family farm. All of this is paired with natural and biodynamic Brazilian wines and sakes from small producers, as well as homemade ferments and floral infusions.
Fuelling the future: Manu is among a growing number of restaurateurs to prioritise the mental and physical health of her workforce. In recent years, she has halved the capacity of her restaurant and reduced its opening to just four days a week. Happier staff equals happier customers – just be sure to book ahead.
Coming soon: Manu’s first New York restaurant, Ella (named for the second part of Manoella’s name), is opening in 2024.