Chef Alex Atala works on book project with Phaidon and renovates restaurant

Alexandra Forbes - 23/01/2012

This new year has been busier than ever for Brazilian chef Alex Atala, whose restaurant D.O.M. is ranked #7 on The World's 50 Best Restaurants list. Just yesterday, he gave a presentation alongside Brazil's greatest design duo Fernando and Humberto Campana at the event Paris des Chefs, yet the highlight of his Paris stay is yet to come.

Atala will serve a tasting menu tomorrow night at Alain Ducasse's flagship at the Plaza Athenée hotel. "He ate at D.O.M. and seemed genuinely impressed, and that's when he started to think of inviting me to cook at his restaurant. To me, of course, it's a huge honour", says Atala. Right after the 50-cover dinner Atala will whip back to São Paulo to return to his kitchen but also to work on the latest - and greatest - of his many book projects. He's deep into the process of producing the photography for a book to be published by Phaidon, which will be a lavishly illustrated retrospective of his career.

Atala chose as photographer Sergio Coimbra, known for owning Brazil's most over-the-top studio and for his near-obssessive dedication to capturing in his dramatic chiaroscuro images the work of top chefs. At the same time, Coimbra and Atala are also going full-steam ahead on their contributions to the upcoming editon of YAM, chef Yannick Alléno's gastronomy magazine.

These two projects will be the cherry on the cake, but Atala is no stranger to print. He has many published works - the latest being Amazonia, a bilingual coffee-table beauty co-signed by famed photographer Araquém Alcântara, hit bookstore shelves at the end of 2011.

[/caption] Also this month, Atala unveiled a new look for his second restaurant, Dalva e Dito. Part of the dining room was converted into a vast and light-filled bar serving oysters, bar snacks and top-notch cachaças and caipirinhas made with lesser-known tropical fruits.

Last week, Atala gave a tour of the light-filled space, designed by José Roberto Moreira do Valle. The highlights are the leather chairs by Pritzker-prize winner Paulo Mendes da Rocha, and the metallic outer shell which sits above ground, seeming to levitate. Dalva e Dito:Rua Padre João Manuel 1115 (at the corner of rua Barão de Capanema), São Paulo, tel. +55 11 3068-4444

Published by Alexandra Forbes, a Brazilian food and travel writer, food editor at GQ Brazil and columnist at Prazeres da Mesa magazine and Folha de São Paulo newspaper.