Saturday, December 11, 2010

Marie Anne Bauer - Fortaleza's Chef of the Year

Marie Anne Bauer
Every November, food enthusiasts in Fortaleza eagerly await the publication of Veja magazine's annual guide to food and drink in the city, called Comer & Beber. Covering food retailers, bars and restaurants, the guide uses a cadre of locally-based judges to indicate best-of-group prize winners in a number of categories - for example, best ice cream, best bar with live music, best beach bar, best Japanese restaurant, best seafood restaurant, etc.

One of the most highly anticipated awards is for the city's chef of the year (Chef do Ano). This year, for the second time in three years, that award went to Marie Anne Bauer, executive chef of the newly established (opened September 2010) Restaurante Âncora on the city's seafront promenade. When she won the prize in 2008 she was the chef of another restaurant and so this year's award makes her the first chef in Fortaleza to have been named chef of the year from two different restaurants.

As her French first name and German-looking surname might indicate, Marie Anne was born and raised in Alsace, and received her first training there. She came to Brazil in 1990 and, after passing briefly through Fortaleza, cooked at a number of restaurants and hotels in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. She returned to Fortaleza in 2007, and according to interviews in the local press, intends to remain here.

At her restaurant, which seats up to 400 persons, she commands an all-male kitchen staff of 14 cooks. She is intensely involved in menu development and is one of the most locavore-minded of the city's chefs. Her menu makes use of many local ingredients such as cashew nuts, manioc, and native fruits. One of her favorite pastimes, according to an interview she recently gave to a local newspaper, is haunting local markets and street-fairs, on the hunt for something new, exotic and delicious to add to her repertoire.

Like other Franco-Brazilian chef-compatriots of hers here in Brazil, Marie Anne Bauer has managed to combine classical French chef training with a love for Brazilian food traditions to create something special and unique. Flavors of Brazil is definitely looking forward to its first experience dining at Ancora and promises to tell the blog's readers all about it afterward.

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