The haute cuisine world remains a very male world, but celebrating the success of brilliant female chefs is vitally important. A new female chef will inspire future generations of women to enter the profession thannks to The Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef award, which celebrates the work of a woman whose cooking excites the world’s toughest critics and most venerated chefs, more than 900 of whom voted in this category. Helena Rizzo of Mani Restaurant, in São Paulo, Brazil has been named the 2014 Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef and will be honoured at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards in London on the 28th April.
Winner of last year’s Veuve Clicquot Latin America’s Best Female Chef award at the inaugural Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants in September 2013, Brazilian-born Rizzo moved to São Paulo aged 18 to pursue a modelling career. She began working in kitchens part time and, before long, had turned her back on modeling to nurture her love of gastronomy.
After working with some of the most influential names on the Brazilian food scene including Emmanuel Bassoleil, Luciano Boseggia and Neka Barreto, Rizzo spent two years running the kitchen at São Paulo’s Na Mata Café before embarking on a culinary adventure dedicated to honing her skills and researching new techniques.
Stints in Italy and Spain followed, including time at El Celler de Can Roca, currently the highest ranked restaurant on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Her time at the Girona restaurant was particularly special, as it was here that she met her future husband and partner in the kitchen, Spanish chef Daniel Redondo. Rizzo returned to São Paulo in 2004, with Redondo following her in early 2005, ready for the next step of their gastronomic journey.
Mani Restaurant opened its doors in 2006 in the São Paulo suburb of Jardim Paulistano, with the unusual combination of husband and wife working alongside one another in the kitchen. Their clever cooking, respectful of traditional Brazilian culinary practices and ingredients, is married with modern technique and sprinkled with Spanish influence, said the officials of “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards”.
With Rizzo’s Brazilian heritage always to the fore, the kitchen offers a unique gastronomic experience. A signature dish, which epitomizes Rizzo’s cooking, is her interpretation of Brazilian classic Maniocas, baked and served with tucupi froth, coconut milk and white truffle oil.
When asked what makes Helena such a great chef, Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca, the current holder of the top spot on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, explained “Helena has talent, sensibility and passion. She is authentic and faithful to her roots.”