WKND - - Chef Speak -

The word ‘ chur­ras­caria’ comes from ‘ chur­rasco’ — the Por­tuguese and Span­ish word for bar­be­qued meat

— the kitchen was pretty much all Brazil­ian! I fit right in!” she says laugh­ing. She went from strength to strength, work­ing a few stints around Dubai be­fore find­ing her place in Chamas, par­tic­u­larly with her skills with meats, and es­pe­cially when it came to Brazil­ian food. To top it all, she is the youngest chef, which, cou­pled with be­ing a woman, doesn’t ex­actly bode well for giv­ing or­ders.

“Ev­ery­where I worked, the women were vastly out­num­bered by the men. And of the few places that had fe­male chefs, I was the only one on hot foods,” she ex­plains. “In one place I worked, we were three women, and two of them were pas­try chefs. In an­other, we were four and, again, I was the only one on hot foods — grilling meats and play­ing with fire.” She adds that there’s noth­ing wrong with be­ing a pas­try chef — after all, she did start in that sec­tion of the kitchen — but she wouldn’t trade it for the stove and the grill. “I love it. I pre­fer the cuts and scrapes and burns! Bring it on,” she says show­ing me her arms with plenty of lit­tle nicks and burns. “If I can do it, I’m sure a lot of women can do it,” she adds.

And when she’s not show­ing the guys in the back how it’s done, she’s busy in­tro­duc­ing guests in the front to Brazil­ian cui­sine. “I’m try­ing to make this into a com­plete Brazil­ian ex­pe­ri­ence,” she says with a big smile. “We’ve even had celebri­ties like [ pro­fes­sional foot­baller] Thi­ago Silva come here,” she says proudly.

De­spite the long hours and hav­ing to give or­ders to her male col­leagues, oddly enough, it’s not the pres­sure of the kitchen that gets to her, but how much she misses her home and her grand­mother. “She passed away some years ago, and I miss her every­day. I wish she could see me to­day and how far I’ve reached. I also miss my home and long for my va­ca­tion so I can go to my home­town and eat all my favourite things,” she says.

She says that mak­ing time for her friends is one of the costs, es­pe­cially when they com­plain that she has ‘ no life’. “They keep call­ing me to go out with them, but I’m al­ways in the kitchen. They make fun of me and say that I love my job more than them. I know I have lost or missed out on a lot of things peo­ple my age would have done, but it’s all worth it. I’m do­ing some­thing I love. I have no re­grets. I feel that I have achieved so many of my dreams and that I am still young enough to cre­ate new dreams for my­self. Not many peo­ple can say that.” She adds that she will al­ways be thank­ful for ev­ery­thing she has and ev­ery­thing that has hap­pened in her life.

As long as she’s in the restau­rant, you can be guar­an­teed that Larissa will make sure you have the best that Brazil has to of­fer, start­ing with a bar­beque to put those manly bar­be­ques to the test.

ro­hit@ khalee­j­times. com

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