Manu Buffara is the critically acclaimed chef behind the restaurant Manu, which she opened in 2012 in her hometown of Curitiba, in Brazil’s Paraná region. The restaurant was listed in Restaurant Magazine’s The World’s 50 Best in 2018, and in late 2019, Buffara opened a second restaurant, called Ella, in New York City.
Buffara celebrates the culture and produce unique to the region of Paraná while also paving the way for gastronomy in Brazil. At her restaurant Manu, she uses organic ingredients from carefully selected suppliers as well as her own garden. Her devotion to sustainability, seasonality, and quality ingredients stems from her commitment to Curitiba: She works with local communities to transform abandoned sites into urban gardens and educate locals on beekeeping, how to care for the gardens, and healing though nutrition.
Buffara learned the value of land, produce, and animals growing up in the countryside and she incorporates this in her everyday approach to cooking. “I’m cooking for change: to change cities, people, and the world. The land, the producers, and products are really important and we need to value them.” Her mission, she says, is “to educate people through what we eat” and “to defend high-quality food, diversity, and local producers.
“We need to understand the processes behind food production; we need to understand how they connect to climate change, waste, pesticides—and how we can change that.”
As a mentor, she is looking for candidates with an interest in the history of food, in specific and local food cultures, and who believe that through valuing and understanding food and where it comes from, we can effect change in the world.