Mandlovu in the Global Kitchen – Brazilian Feast with Cook in Rio

When I set out to find a cooking class in the vibrant city of Rio de Janeiro, my curiosity led me to a menu that seemed to offer a number of dishes I was not familiar with. The promise of an introduction to a world of flavours I was yet to explore, drew me into booking a class with Cook in Rio.

The class took place in a charming restaurant in the heart of the city. Chef Simone, and her husband owned the restaurant. Chef Simone, was to be the guide through this culinary adventure. I was 15 minutes early, and to my delight, everything had already been meticulously set up. She had prepared two tables for the evening. She ardoned one of the tables with an array of fruit and vegetables. The other had crockery and an assortment of cooking utensils for the class. Five curious foodies attended, ready for a Brazillian cooking adventure for the evening.

Chef Simone, was a true gem. She learnt everyone’s names, cracked jokes with us and kept us engaged through the course of the evening. Her warm and bubbly personality put us all at ease. She shared many anecdotes to highlight the significance of food in Brazilian culture. Bossa Nova music, which the mesmerising fusion of samba and jazz music, filled the background. Chef Simone and some of the students could not resist swaying to the rhythm of the beat, between tasks. It was a true reminder of the ubiquitous presence of dance in Brazilian culture. Some of the famous dances include samba, carimbo and capoeira, amongst others.

Our culinary journey began with a welcome toast, as we crafted our own Passion Fruit Caipirinhas. The drink was simple to make. It combined crushed ice, sugar, passion fruit, freshly squeezed lime juice and cachaça. With a toast, a delightful adventure was beggining. The drink was delicious and we had a chance to prepare a few more of these, as the night progressed. Ensuring our spirits remained high (pun intended).


As it was a few weeks before Carnival, acts in the parade were currently deep into their rehearsals. Chef Simone encouraged us to attend some of the vibrant re sessions in different locations across the city. We learned that the Carnival was not just a celebration of Brazilian diversity. It is also a homage to the rich cultural heritages from which Brazillians originate.

Our culinary adventure continued with the preparation of starters. We made grilled cheese topped with a guava paste, chilli and lime as well as Brazilian calabresa sausages flambeed with alcohol. One can enjoy these dishes as starters or they also make popular bar snacks, when paired with with drinks. We took it in turns to preparing different parts of the dish. Getting the sausages to flambee was the most exciting element, albeit with a dash of caution given the live flames. As we had saved our appetites for the class, as soon as the starters were ready, we dug into the mouthwatering dishes. After this, it was time to make another caipirinha.

With our appetites whetted, we then continued to the main course. We made Fish Moqueca, a beloved Brazillian fish stew, bursting with flavours. It has peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, lime and coriander.  We paired it with a dish called banana farofa, made with caramelised onions, tapioca flour, salt and sliced banana. Each family may have different preferences, resulting in variations in the traditional dishes.


The diversity landscapes and geography results in the regional differences in ingredients. Coupled with the diverse cultural backgrounds of Brazilian people results in diversity of the food. Brazilian cuisine truly reflects the fusion of culinary traditions from around the globe. This rang true based on the food tour I went to the previous day and a book I read that emphasised the immense variety awaiting those who explore Brazilian gastronomy.

The final creation for desert, it was brigadeiros. These are a simple delicious dessert made from butter, condensed milk, cocoa, and topped with chocolate sprinkles.

The menu for the night encompassed a delightful array of culinary experiences:

Drink: Passion Fruit Caipirinhas, Original Caipirinhas


-Brazilian Calabresa Sausage

-Grilled Cheese topped with guava paste, chilli and lime


-Fish Moqueca

-Banana Farofa



I rate this cooking class a solid 7/10. Chef Simone was an exceptional teacher who brought the class to life with her engaging anecdotes, humor, and insights into Brazilian culture. As a hands-on learner, I would have preferred more involvement in preparing the dishes. We however, each received a book with all the recipes, allowing us to recreate the magic in our own kitchens.

Brazilian food is an exploration of flavours that extends further than Brazilian BBQ. I would therefore highly recommend taking a Brazilian culinary journey.

Have you ever ventured into Brazilian cooking at home? Comment below to share what you made or want to make.


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