Serendipity in Sao Paulo

One of LogicPrep’s greatest accomplishments and adventures in 2016 has been opening an office in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Learning about a new culture while sharing our passion for studying in the US has led to many rewarding exchanges of ideas, to say the least.  My two favorite things about traveling are eating new foods and meeting interesting people.  My most recent trip to Sao Paulo provided me with both.

A fellow foodie at LP, Julia, told me about one of her most recent finds on Netflix, “Chef’s Table.”  Each episode is a standalone story about a chef, and his or her culture, influences, and food.  Since I was headed to Brazil in a few days she recommended that I watch an episode about a Brazilian chef and true Renaissance Man, Alex Atala.  

Captivated by Alex Atala’s mission of putting Brazilian food on the culinary map and rescuing the rainforest, I felt compelled to get reservations for our LP team at his super experimental and creative restaurant, DOM, in Sao Paulo. However, my only caveat was that everyone had to watch the episode so they would be equally excited to dine there. 

I arrived to Sao Paulo on a Monday morning and hit the ground running. In between appointments, Murilo and I headed out to our favorite sandwich shop to grab a quick lunch.  On our way we passed Alex Atala’s casual restaurant, Dalva e Dito...and low and behold, the man was there himself!  Immediately our plans changed and I needed to meet Alex (what can I say, I was fairly starstruck from having just watched his episode 72 hours before).

Jesse with world-renowned chef, Alex Atala

Our conversation was short, but I had the opportunity to tell him how inspirational he is and that because I loved it so much I was bringing our team to DOM later that week.  He was so humble and simply replied by asking me whether I preferred to eat something savory or sweet. Since I was having lunch I told him savory, and he had his kitchen prepare us something that wasn’t on the menu: octopus ceviche with crostinis. It was amazing and moments later Gretchen and her friend walked by and joined us for lunch.  

Octopus ceviche with crostinis at Dalva e Dito

While eating lunch we got to hear Alex being interviewed and we all did our best to try and eavesdrop although my Portuguese is bad at best.  Later the next day we were like adoring fans making our way to DOM, which is quite possibly the biggest culinary step outside of my comfort zone that I have ever made. I ate a dessert with ants and have pictures to prove it!  

Our dessert featuring ants at DOM

Serendipity is one of my favorite words. Merriam Webster defines it as “luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for.” Sao Paulo is a tremendous city of over 11 million people, and just a few hours off the plane, I met my first Brazilian idol: Alex Atala.  This was lucky, pleasant, and certainly not intentionally sought out.  Our team has had an amazing time helping Brazilian students prepare for their voyages to study in the US and I look forward to seeing what serendipitous moments lie ahead!