Just listen to the word “gourmet” and a lot of people – including me – stand with their feet behind their ears. Chic dishes already come to mind with those indecipherable foods that are impossible to reproduce at home by us, lowly mortals. Isn’t it that there is a TV show with four friendly and humorous guys ready to teach us how to prepare the best meals, spices and secrets? The “Gourmet Men” have been on the air for just over two years, so you should already know exactly who I’m talking about (:
Gustavo Rocha, Dalton Rangel, Carlos Bertolazzi and João Alcântara are friends and chefs. I talked to three of them (João lives in Spain and that complicated communication a little bit) by surprise, because I knew that the interview with Guga would work – I just had no idea that Dalton and Bertolazzi would also be on the same occasion, so… No could miss the opportunity, right?
The conversation with Guga revolved around the books he is writing (you will be surprised by the diversity of subjects, always related to gastronomy) and the lives of chefs and gastronomy students. Passionate about history and, of course, food, the Alagoan sought out the origins of Brazilian cuisine, specializing in quilombos and in all the wealth of recipes they have at their roots. He wants to catalog our cuisine and show the world that Brazil has much more than feijoada and barbecue, that our country has a free kitchen. “I took the project for the Quilombos book to a large research institution and they said: ‘Have you ever stopped to think that the only ones who did an extensive and profound work on the origins of Brazilian cuisine were Gilberto Freyre, Câmara Cascudo and you? ‘”, account. And look, their books didn’t even have a recipe, Guga’s will have 300!
With Dalton and Bertolazzi the subject was the daily life of Gourmet Men on the stage, on social networks and on how life is more fun with humor.
photo: Portal Maceió
I Could Kill For Dessert: You are known for your “tropicalist cuisine”. Is a type of cuisine necessarily Brazilian?
Guga Rocha: Tropicalist cuisine is a really cool excuse for me to do what I want. For example: in the movement of music, cinema with Glauber Rocha, they took external influences, like Rock and Roll, Blues, Jazz and mixed with things of the people. I do this with the kitchen: I take the Foie Gras and serve it with a reduction of coconut milk. So that’s it, I’m free to do whatever I want, no one orders me in the kitchen. The kitchen is mine and I do what I want! If people like it, great, what I want is to give them pleasure. Just don’t give me labels! Nobody knows very well what “tropicalist cuisine” is, so it’s good because it’s not a label.
ICKFD: Beauty. And what is being a chef?
Guga: I think every great chef is a sweet tooth, first of all. You have to eat a lot to learn, you don’t just learn in college. Of course you learn, but you learn by eating the food of other chefs, influencing yourself, learning. I don’t like to know only that a hideout is made with cassava and dried meat. I like to know that cassava is called Manihot Utilíssima, which belongs to the Euforbiáceas family and is perennial at that time …
ICKFD: So if you wanted to give a tip to students who dream of being chefs, what would it be?
Guga: For every gastronomy student I say: anyone who thinks that sells food is doomed to fail. You sell concept. If the food is good, the guy comes back. What makes the guy leave the house on a Saturday night to eat in such a restaurant? Because in such a restaurant there is something that only that chef does, which is different and has a concept. To have a concept you need a lot of historical knowledge.
ICKFD: Speaking of technique. How many percent is it needed in the kitchen?
Guga: I think about 80%. What happens today with kids is that the guy leaves college thinking he’s a chef, decides to open a different restaurant but doesn’t know how to make loose rice. The technique I speak is the basic one. Of the people who finish their culinary school in Brazil, it is very difficult for someone who knows how to make all the classic French sauces. It is very limited. But it’s like medicine, the guy ends up and does what? Specializes. The cook too! Graduated? Then you will specialize, you will travel, know things. Eat a lot and watch what the other chefs are doing.
ICKFD: So you can’t leave the gastronomy faculty and call yourself a chef.
Guga: If the guy is a whore, who has read a lot and dedicated himself, fine, it could be. But do you want to be an artist? So you have to dedicate yourself a little more, travel. I learned a lot of things in places you could never imagine, like when a guy in Thailand was currying on the floor, in a muddy place, with everything raw and stuff, and I sat and learned more from him than when I was in college! So you have to travel. Otherwise, you go out thinking it’s good, then you work with amazing chefs and see that it’s not like that…
ICKFD: And how are your literary projects now? We know that you have just launched “Recipes to pick up women” and have one about Quilombola cuisine, scheduled for the end of the year.
Guga: Altogether there are four books at the same time. The first is fiction, the story of a boy who is the son and grandson of a cook and he has to learn to cook to support his mother, set in Minas in 1914. It will be a storybook with recipes, with interactions online. It’s very innovative, but it takes a lot of work. The other is the Recipe for Granny: I am cataloging the 100 oldest women in Brazil and taking the recipes from each of them. This project is a huge passion. And I’m also writing the continuity of Recipes for Picking Women, which is “Gugaaaa, make him marry me!”, With recipes for women who want to win boyfriends / husbands. And the last one is a secret, I can’t tell.
ICKFD: But when did your relationship with quilombos arise?
Guga: Since I was a kid, I used to live in the region a lot and ate that food, the foguedos, the music… After becoming an adult I became a chef, I traveled over 15 countries to study cooking and I realized that has a book of French, Spanish and Greek cuisine. Now, are you looking for Brazilian cuisine? Ana Luísa trajano made a beautiful book, Alex Atala, but they are books of the new Brazilian cuisine. Thinking about the question of historical research, there is very little: Gilberto Freyre and Câmara Cascudo. Of course, we had incredible chefs of Brazilian cuisine, but the root thing, I think there is little. So the quilombos book is for that, to rescue these things that are very rich… It is an extensive research, I have been researching on the subject for 5 years.
ICKFD: And how do you go about writing 4 books at the same time ?!
Guga: I got a c * $% @ # * technique! I write short stories. Then I get sick and change, write one, write another. Okay, don’t get tired! And with regard to time, I don’t want to rush, I want to launch a work, not sell. So much that no money is made with books, right. Especially in Brazil.
ICKFD: If you weren’t a chef, then …
Guga: I think I would be a writer. Or masseuse! I love doing massage.
ICKFD: What about your relationship at Gourmet Men, how is it?
Dalton: Natural, instinctive, we are friends …
Dalton: It is as if we are here now, we talk, play. But there we are at a time to cook, have fun and show people a little of our knowledge. But we don’t treat each other differently just because we’re off camera.
Bertolazzi: Yeah, we even joke that it’s like they let us go into a kitchen with some cameras filming. It wouldn’t be much different.
ICKFD: Not having a script at the time of the program gives you freedom, but it also has its disadvantages. What is the difficulty in that?
Bertolazzi: We need to police ourselves a little bit when speaking, because we have to remember that it is a television program watched by children, grandparents, fathers, mothers … So we have to hold back a bit of the bullshit. Sometimes the director arrives and says: “guys, less!”.
Dalton: The kids are inside us, it’s not a matter of age. Everyone likes to play so the difficulty is really keeping the language loose.
ICKFD: Moving from cameras to real life. How do you think Brazil is for someone to open a restaurant, a gastronomic business?
Bertolazzi: In any medium there is always room for a good project. What doesn’t make a lot of sense is putting things together without a head or a head because you think it’s a hobby, it’s fun.
Dalton: There are many people who retire, for example, and say “I want to own a restaurant because I already have my life done now, I want to relax.” On the contrary, he will discover that he will work much more as a restaurant owner than before, in the company.
Bertolazzi: I worked in a bank myself and when I went to gastronomy I didn’t think I was going to work much more. Because even though I’m at home I’m connected to a social network, watching fan comments.
ICKFD: And how is the public response on social media?
Dalton: Always positive. They love this irreverence, the games …
Bertolazzi: It’s funny because even when some people curse us, we soon respond with jokes to keep from losing our mood.
1) If you only had three ingredients to make a dinner, which would you choose?
Guga: Shrimp, Coconut Milk and Pepper Dedo de Moça.
Dalton: Egg, cheese and pasta. I can do anything with that.
Bertolazzi: Pasta, tomato and basil. There, it’s the basics.
2) Favorite dessert?
Guga: Putz… All of them. Wow, I love candy. I am very chocoholic but I like candy very much. You ask me that and I think about 500 types, pudding, chocolate fondue, pâté. Wow, it depends on the day. A specific one doesn’t work. [3 minutos depois] But wait, there’s one: roll cake and tapioca ice cream. This one … It’s sensational.
Dalton: Pudding, no hole please!
Bertolazzi: Just don’t give me fruit. Dessert has to have chocolate, I like chocolate. If you want to mix a fruit with chocolate, make it a banana.