If you're Brazilian, you know. In this country bushes grow everywhere. In the flowerbed of the avenue, in the crack of the sidewalk, in the flowerpot. Here nature is so present it’s almost annoying and when we see plants growing where they should not, we think "weed." Among these plants, however, there are numerous species that could go on your plate and, more than that, are almost always much more nutritious than the plants you buy in the supermarket.
The "PANCS", Non-Conventional Food Plants,have a place not only on the sidewalks, but also in the most respected restaurants in the world.
Getting your ingredients from the forest seems obvious, but it is not. Very few people in Brazil know how to distinguish what is there just to look at and what is there to eat. Jorge Ferreira, is one of these who does know, and he has become the right arm of chefs such as Alex Atala and Helena Rizzo. He helps them find new native ingredients.
Along with him, chef Henrique Gilberto and tea designer Dani Lieuthier took the head of the table we set up in the middle of one of the largest collections of plants of Brazil, the Inhotim Institute.
This park - which is also the world's largest open-air contemporary art museum - has more than 4,200 listed species, many of which are edible.Leading a group of 13 hand-picked participants, they created, harvested, cooked, prepared and served, in less than 8 hours, a singular and surprising gastronomic experience, for 36 special guests who were at The MECAInhotim Festival.
The Mesa was held during the MecaFestival, a multicultural event that mixes shows, lectures, workshops, exhibitions and experiences.
One of the biggest challenges in preparing and setting up a Mesa during MECAInhotim was to think of something that was really unique and that was relevant to that park-museum.
Because it houses not only art works but also plants, nothing seemed as powerful as using the museum itself as raw material for a gastronomic experience.
"Create and serve an unprecedented gastronomic experience made with the ingredients found and collected within Inhotim.
This experience should surprise and educate the guests about the power/importance of using PANCs.
For this we must:
• Create and prepare the dishes that will be served
• Create the whole experience (location, decoration, service)
The experience should be served at 7:00 pm for a closed group of 30 guests inside the 'Espaço igrejinha'"