When I was six years old, my family moved to the Brazilian state Paraná, and I’ve been to São Paulo at least 20 times over the years. I love the way the city mixes cultures, and how chefs aren’t afraid to be adventurous and combine Amazonian, Lebanese, Japanese and Italian traditions. I miss the region’s traditional churrascaria, and I’ll soon bring those meaty flavours to Air Canada’s Montreal–São Paulo flight, with Canadian ingredient twists like PEI potatoes instead of Brazilian yuca. When I’m in town I like going to Jardins: a hip, bustling district with lots of interesting restaurants.
The São Paulo Museum of Modern Art inspires me: I once saw a painting there in which a family was connected by their hair. It reminded me to respect my culture and where my parents are from. If you don’t know where your past was, how can you know where your future will be?
Hotel Unique’s design made me want to stay there. I’m into modern architecture and this place is shaped like a big slice of watermelon! There’s also a great bar on the roof called Skye where I’ll have a whisky or a caipirinha, just because it’s the drink of Brazil.
Evvai, run by my close friend chef Luiz Filipe Souza, recently received a Michelin star. It mixes Italian and Brazilian traditions, and I love the homemade yuca sourdough served with three kinds of fermented butter.
Havaianas’ flagship store is on Rua Oscar Freire – a must–stop stretch with crazy bars, restaurants and artisanal shops. I have four pairs of their flip–flops, and I buy a new pair almost every time I go as a nod to my childhood: Our family was poor, and to have those sandals was a sign of being cool, so my friends and I all wore them.
Tuju chef Ivan Ralston is like a mad scientist. He actually has a lab upstairs where he experiments, and he grows vegetables in his on–site garden. I love that he uses Japanese techniques and ingredients from the Amazon. The way he approaches lobster, serving it at the perfect texture right between cooked and raw, was an eye–opener for me.