When Alex Atala opened his restaurant D.O.M. in 1999, he made a decision that was to change the history of modern Brazilian cuisine.
Atala wanted to change the way his nation was considered gastronomically and believed ingredients like acai, pupunha or cupuacu to be the very essence of Brazil and their uniqueness should be celebrated.
In 1999, he opened D.O.M. (from the Latin, Deo Optimo Maximo – God is Great and Exceeding – good in his wisdom and exceeding in his kindness) in Sao Paulo, not only to create an exceptional gastronomic experience using local ingredients, but one that captured the flavours, colours, textures and even smells of what it meant to eat in Brazil.
It soon became the most popular restaurant in the city with food lovers, critics and chefs. The concept of D.O.M. was ahead of its time and its ethos helped clear the way for other restaurants.
D.O.M. was soon to become Brazil’s most famous restaurant with Alex Atala winning numerous awards including Chef of the Year and Best Contemporary Cuisine by Veja Sao Paulo and Chef of the Year and 3 Stars on Guia 4Rodas.
For Atala though, the process of flying Brazil’s culinary flag was more than just constrained within the walls of the restaurant. Developing menus with a strong presence of native ingredients required time and research. Some of that research had been far-reaching into the Amazon rainforest.
His ambition now is to promote Brazilian produce on an international scale, and hopes that given time and the development of sustainable farming strategies, palm hearts and acai berries, become as normal as pasta or blueberries in store cupboards throughout the world. His first product “Mini Arroz”, an exclusive variety of rice by grower Francisco Ruzene, has already been launched under the brand “Retratos do Gosto”.
In January 2009, he opened a second restaurant Dalva e Dito focusing on Brazilian heritage dishes based on home recipes.