DID YOU KNOW?
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