By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio de Janeiro is perhaps best known for its sparkling beaches, lively samba and annual Carnival celebration however this month, it is the city’s culinary delights that will be showcased in the festival “Rio Gastronomia.” The event which was first introduced by O Globo newspaper, partners of the Municipality of Rio, RioTur (tourist center) and SindRio (the union of hotels, restaurants and bars) is the fourth of its kind and will take place over eleven days.
This year, the theme of Rio Gastronomia stems from the universal influences on the city’s regional and international cuisine. Pedro De Lamare of SindRio states “The main goal of Rio Gastronomia is to highlight the diversity of restaurants in Rio. We want to show that you can find any cooking tradition from both Brazil and worldwide here.”
Liliandayse Marinho from RioTur went on to express how important events such as this are in the city’s annual calendar. “The months between April and October are considered low-season, yet occasions such as Rio Gastronomia have continued to attract tourists to the city.”
The festival opens with an exclusive dinner held by Mayor Eduardo Paes at a private venue on August 18th, which will be followed by a gastronomic treat for the public in which over 300 of the city’s best restaurants will prepare an exclusive three-course menu at special prices.
The event then plans to take to the streets of Rio, starting with a mobile-cooking show which will travel through Zona Sul (South Zone) and Zona Norte (North Zone) with a variety of chefs on board to create a step-by-step modern twist on traditional dishes. The demonstration will end each night with a presentation in Lapa following which the audience will have the chance to take home copies of the recipes.
Liliandayse Morinho states: “Everyone will have the opportunity to experience an incredible mix of cuisines and entertainment, bringing together both the professionals and the public.”
Additionally, some lucky audiences will be treated to a dynamic feijoada competition in Nota 10, Tijuca involving a number of Rio’s Carnival samba schools. The contestants will be judged not only on the quality of the cooking, but on the service, friendliness, organization, and of course the music and entertainment value of the show. The winner will be announced at the festivals closing party held on August 27th at Circo Voador in Lapa.
As part of a celebratory promotion, O Globo plans to select fifty people, each with a companion of their choice, to go on a guided tour of the city. The group will visit some of Rio’s oldest and most traditional bars and restaurants, affording a glimpse at some fine examples of architecture and cuisine complete with an historical recount of each of the venues provided by historian Milton Teixeira.
In conjunction with the festival, O Globo news network will release a bilingual guide book which will be particularly useful to tourists. The booklets will be sent to a number of hotels and tourist points and shall feature seventy of the city’s best bars and restaurants.
The final four days of Rio Gastronomia promises to bring a spectacular end to the festivities. The Circuito Rio Show will offer free activities, classes, concerts and workshops in the MAM museum in Flamengo. The themes will include French and Spanish Cuisine accompanied by Wines and deserts concluding with the announcement of Rio Gastronomia’s winning restaurant on August 28th.
Pedro De Lamare hopes the tradition of this culinary festival will continue. “We want Rio Gastronomia to become an annual event, attracting tourists from Brazil and other countries and showing that our cuisine plays a special role in the tourist industry.”
To find out about the schedule of events, plus locations of the mobile cooking show and the feijoada competition, see the official web site: www.rioguiaoficial.com.br.