Chef Bel Coelho and his children Francisco, 8 years old, and José, 5 years old Photo: Daniel Teixeira/Estadão
A stove flame can scare you, a sharp knife can hurt. But still, the kitchen can also be a place to children. In it, the little ones can use the environment as a space for communication and creation, as guaranteed by mother chefs who celebrate the kitchen with their children.
Bel Coelho no introductions. With a twenty-year career from São Paulo, she runs two starred restaurants, Clandestino and Canto da Bel. And at home, she doesn’t hide the joy of having her children Francisco and José, aged six and four, always in the kitchen.
“I love that they have a lot of interest and curiosity to know what is being done. They arrive already asking for a stool to be at the height of the bench”, says the chef. “I mainly teach basic skills like handling a knife and fire so they don’t get hurt. Today, their relationship with food and cooking is natural and pleasurable. I think we built this because I always wanted them to have a healthy experience with eating and cooking.”
the chef’s son Roberta Juliaofrom Da Feira to Baile, he is not yet old enough to get on the stool – Matias is only a few months old. However, Roberta already introduces the baby to the colorful and tasty world of food, going far beyond the tasteless baby food. It’s no wonder that, on Roberta’s official Instagram account, it’s possible to see the little one trying even a plate of chayote with coriander.
“Eating goes far beyond nourishment. It’s sharing, being together, appreciating, savoring. And I want to pass that passion on to my son. I try to show the importance of the meal time, how pleasurable and fun it can be, a moment of the family together.”
Little Matias, 8 months old, actively participates in the routine of chef Roberta Julião Photo: WERTHER SANTANA/ESTADÃO
It is also a form of communication. “Undoubtedly. It’s one of the reasons why I give him the freedom to discover the food, eat how and how much he wants, being the protagonist of his food introduction, without rushing and respecting his time.”
Mother’s day at the restaurant
Janaína Ruedachef at Bar da Dona Onça and at A Casa do Porco, also understands the home kitchen as a space for coexistence. But it goes further, including children in their daily lives in restaurants as well. So much so that the professional history of the chef and her husband, Jefferson Rueda, is intertwined with the memories of João Pedro, now 16 years old, and Joaquim José, 12 years old.
“My children were practically born and raised in the kitchen. João’s first baby food was published in the press, with his recipe and photos”, recalls Janaína. “I cooked on the stove at Bar da Dona Onça, getting sick with the smell of garlic, until Joaquim was eight months pregnant. And he was breastfed in that kitchen. Both João and Joaquim have worked in the kitchen at Hot Pork and, today, João’s first job is as a garde manger at A Casa do Porco. It is very natural for them, who have a mother and father who are cooks. It’s in our blood. Even if in the future they do not want to practice the profession, the learning is for life.”
Portrait of chef Janaína Rueda with her children Joaquim and João Pedro in the family’s kitchen Photo: PHOTO TIAGO QUEIROZ / ESTADÃO
Lisiane AroucaOwner and chef-pâtissière of the Origin, tried to include her daughters Giulia, 18, and Luana, 22, in the daily life of the kitchen. But each went their own way. “I have two completely different puppies: the youngest likes to eat and enjoys eating, while the older one doesn’t care whether she eats or not. I tried, since they were little, to make them interact with me in the kitchen and want to learn, because my biggest concern was that they were independent.”
Lisiane says that she always wanted to have at least one of the girls in the restaurants. “Even so that they could continue the recipes and everything we do,” she says. And she still hasn’t given up hope. “The youngest, who is now an artist and has this creative side, may become interested in the art of gastronomy at some point. She even went to Ori’s waitress, which was really cool.”
The kitchen as a form of reunion between mother and children
But no matter which path the children may take, the important thing is that time does not erase the memories of chefs and their children in the kitchen. The environment, even with its burns and mishaps, remains a meeting point even in adulthood. After all, as much as comings and goings have marked these relationships between children and mother, sharing the kitchen space remains a form of reunion.
Floriana Breyer, 39, the chef’s eldest daughter Carla Pernambucoalways participated in Carlota bringing new ingredients to the bistro kitchen. “Floriana has always been our ‘forager’, who researched products and brought these novelties to Carlota”, says the chef.
From the desire to take these flavors and knowledge to more people, SinestesiXLab was born, a partnership between mother and daughter that generates recipes, audiovisual content, new products for the market, classes and synesthetic and biodiverse experiences. “Being by my daughter’s side in such a cool project designed by her adds both to Carlota and to our mother-daughter relationship. In such a busy world, it’s one more reason to get together”, the chef is proud.
Another good story is about the chef and the baker Claudia Rezendefrom Zestzing Artisan Bakery. Her three children are now 26 and 28 years old. And they love to cook. “At home, I have always enjoyed sharing the kitchen with my children and husband. And today I am very proud, because I know that I planted this seed in them, to eat the food made by yourself”, explains the chef in an interview with Estadão.
Claudia Rezende, from Zestzing Padaria Artesanal, shows that the kitchen can remain a space for coexistence with children Photo: Michele Minerbo
Each of the children has a different relationship with food. Michele, 26, asked his mother for a formal cooking course when he moved abroad. “Today, she often makes dinner,” says Claudia. Rafael, the same age, lives alone and cooks very well. “When the family gets together, he makes the food with the help of his brothers, they almost don’t let me in the kitchen.”
Camile, 28, has decided to go vegan. “She made a point of preparing her meals. It wouldn’t even let me buy the ingredients. Today she lives in Portugal and I don’t even need to say that she manages very well”, says the baker, who still gives tips when cooking, even with her children in charge of the preparation: “[Eu quero] always try to show the best way to do it. Chef thing. Or would it be a mother?”