BBMag brings readers another exclusive interview, this time with Chef Flavio Amaral
1– Let’s start with your full name, birthplace, where you’ve lived…
R: My name is Flavio Enadro da Silva Amaral, I was born in Betim, in the state of Minas Gerais. I have lived in Rio and Minas Gerais (in Brazil) and Bucks, the Costwolds, Shropshire and Wales (in the UK).
2 – Tell us a bit about your history in London.
R: I got here in 2003. My first job was in the kitchen of a pub which was a way out of the city and served traditional English fare (game, etc.). I learnt a lot about cooking and also quite a lot of English! After that I went to the Cotswolds, where I worked in a hotel, but didn’t stay very long there. My next step was working as a Private Chef in Wales, where I also studied at Hereford Tech College. I was fortunate enough to get lots of experience cooking with top names, such as Jamie Oliver and Rose Gray, and we cooked for important guests like the ex-US presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, among others. After a few years I moved to Shropshire and worked in the Michelin star pub Claude Rossi, before finally moving back to London and working in a few restaurants until, eventually, I took up my current position of Head Chef at the Embassy of Brazil.
3 – What’s the most difficult thing about working as a Chef outside your own country?
R: I don’t think it’s hard being a Brazilian chef in London. Of course there are difficulties, but I don’t believe that any of them stem from my nationality. In a cosmopolitan city such as London, there are no impediments to anyone because of their country of origin.
4- As regards ingredients: do you prefer to find Brazilian originals or are you apt to adapt your recipes to make use of English ingredients?
R: Over the course of the five years I have been working at the Embassy, we have managed to build up a network of suppliers, which helps us immensely when it comes to finding Brazilian ingredients.
5 – What’s your favourite dish? And which do you most enjoy preparing?
R: As someone from Minas (Brazilian landlocked state), I love anything that has anything to do with seafood!
6- What do you think of the way Brazilian gastronomy is viewed from abroad?
R: I feel that now that Chefs like Alex Atala, Roberta Sudbrack and others have been discovered, Brazilian gastronomy is being seen in a different light.
7– Do you believe the Gastronomy industry can make drastic changes in these times of heightened consciousness about health issues and cholesterol?
R: There is still a great deal to do for us to move forwards. Unfortunately, we don’t have the support we deserve. It was from these issues that my idea for the Brazilian Taste Gastro Show came.
8 – If you were to cook a special dinner for someone right now, who would it be for and what would you prepare?
R: I’d very much like to cook for Sergio Moro (Brazilian Judge in charge of the ‘Car Wash’ corruption investigation), as a way of thanking him for everything he has done for Brazil. It would have to be something thoroughly English, so as to show him something well and truly different from that which he is used to eating in Brazil.
9- When you are not cooking, what do you tend to do in your free time?
R: Recently I have been dedicating myself to LSU’s Food Science course, and some other projects.
10- If you weren’t a Chef, what would you be?
R: Maybe a Doctor, to try to bring relief to people in pain.
11 – What advice would you give to someone thinking of entering your profession?
R: Follow your dreams, study to gain knowledge and work hard.
12- In the kitchen, what is more important – talent or competence (as well as knowing how to cook, of course)?
R: I suppose you need a bit of both. As well as the necessary grit and stamina to face the challenges of a trade which, nowadays, is seen as quite ‘glamorous’. The truth is it is a completely unglamorous profession on a day to day basis.
13- Which Chefs have inspired you? Who are you most similar to?
R: First of all, as a good mineiro (person from Minas Gerais), my inspiration came from my upbringing – we are brought up in and around the kitchen from a young age. As an adult, I take inspiration from Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adrian.
14- What were the repercussions of the Brazilian Gastro Show – an event which you yourself created and which took place in London last month.
R: The “Brazilian Gastro Show” was a success. It is a way for us to spread the word about Brazilian cuisine here in Europe. Everyone who was involved was very satisfied with the results.
15- What about the future? Do you have many plans?
R: My big dream is to have a respected, exclusively Brazilian restaurant here in London. I have a few projects on the go, let’s see if we manage to put on a big event in Brazil in the near future.