cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


 Hello Codets. Don't be cross with me, i know it has been a while. But i have been swamped with work and had a nasty case of salmonella poisoning which left me feeble and whimpering on the floor in the corner of my bathroom. Not a pleasant time. In any case, i am sitting here today on a gray Sao Paulo monday with a sunburn on my legs for the first time in the four years i have lived in brazil to tell you about our adventures in the past week, particularly the Indochine dinner i kept going on and on about.... that was November 7th. I also need to report a few photo shoots, my cakery and how irksome cake pops are.

The Indochine dinner. Really there is nothing to say other than how stunned i was by the success. I am not trying to praise myself, but honestly there were no problems. Not one. The only hiccup was that one of the "guests of honor" arrived very late forcing my entrance to sit plated for longer than i had wanted. But that's it. No complaints, nothing broke, i didn't burn anything. It was like, magic. I went Gordon Ramsey on my crew maybe only once or twice, but everything went out quickly and the stew was served hot! 40 stews served hot! I even received a standing ovation at the end when i explained the meal with a impromptu speech. The whole event seems like a blur looking back, but luckily H was there to take a few phone photos.

What was the event. It's difficult to explain. I was hired by a social organization called SP Night run by a group of women in Sao Paulo. The organization holds various events including socials, markets and connection evenings. This was a connection event, meaning people with similar business interests were invited to "mingle" and treated to a three course dinner. The event was held at a private country club style house called Tofiq House located in undoubtedly one of the most glamorous and well-to-do neighborhoods in Sao Paulo. I chose the theme Indochine because i am most fascinated by Vietnamese cuisine, and to kick it up a notch for guests paying two hundred a seat we specified it to Indochine; meaning Vietnamese dishes influenced by French flavors or techniques. It was quite a challenge.

The menu took about a week to get straight. I have to thank, and give credit, to one particular blog that helped me beyond belief. I spent hours pouring over posts at The Ravenous Couple, a blog featuring beautiful Vietnamese and contemporary foods. Their recipes for bo kho beef stew, various banh mi sandwiches and instructions on glutinous rice balls gave me a concrete stepping stone to tweak into my own Indochine versions. So thank you Ravenous Couple!

The menu was as follows; a welcome cocktail featuring mint, tangerine juice and gin, a starter play of of the classic banh mi French baguette sandwich (i turned it into a bruschetta), main was a spicy beef stew featuring white yams and fresh herbs, and finally dessert included a pandan creme brulee and fried glutinous rice balls filled with banana and cinnamon served with a coconut cream.

I was nervous as hell going into it, but i got it done. and it was quite the thrill, a dream actually. I owe a lot of thanks to my team for helping, including my sous chef, two waitresses and two cleaners. Impossible without great help. I can't wait to do it again.

The day after the big event (i arrived home at about 2am) i had two large bakery orders to fill. When it rains it pours. I have been selling a lot of layer cakes kitchen is turning into a cakery. We had a baby's first birthday cake along with a cheesecake, cupcakes, cake pops, caramel apples and creme brulee to make the day after Indochine....i honestly felt like a zombie pushing my cart through the supermarket aisle. But the results were well worth the pain. We also got a quick photo shoot in of the cutie pie one year old. Making cakes is starting to be quite relaxing....i will take that back next week when i have two orders to deliver on the same morning but for now I still love looking at them.

This is my Sao Paulo life now. I have been waiting almost four years to be busy and now i am. And im loving it. I feel like i have my own purpose, my own space in this vast country whereas before i felt like a floating immigrant destined to teach for no merit other than birthright. The immigrant dream of being a "self made man" and turning nothing into something isn't the American dream; it's the dream of anyone starting from scratch in a terrifying and intimidating foreign land. Once you find your place you start living rather than floating. See you next week.


Anonymous said...

That last paragraph was something... Very deep. Congratulations for the well deserved success and... you're welcome!

Mallory said...

Deep...yes sometimes i actually have something to say ;)

M.Lane said...

Congratulations! I have been following your posts for a long time now and I can't wait to see what happens next! Queen of Cakes?

True talent combined with a lot of work is a trans-border elixir.


Mallory said...

Thanks M. Lane! Queen of cakes, we'll see when i open my cakery!