Global Americans and the Canadian Council for the Americas present “Two gringos with questions,” an interview series featuring political and cultural leaders from across the Americas. In the thirteenth episode, Chris and Ken talk to Brazilian chef and food activist Teresa Corção.
Teresa Corção is a chef-proprietor, documentary maker and food activist. After graduating from St. Martins School of Arts in London, she moved back to Rio de Janeiro and joined one of her sisters as chef and co-owner of the family restaurant “O Navigator.” After being invited to a chef competition in Northern Brazil, Corção was introduced to the extremely versatile cassava. In her journey to introduce the world to Brazil’s most famous ingredient, she became aware that her work as a chef could have a big influence on the survival of local farmers, as well as their food products.
As a result, Corção started “Projeto Mandioca” (Cassava Project), which worked to teach public school children from the slums of Rio about manioc and revive the use of cassava. For eight years, students were taught how to prepare tapioca and its role in history, music, folklore and cuisine.
After the success of the Cassava Project, Corção founded the Maniva Institute in 2007 to nurture organic family farming and better nutrition in society as a whole. At the same time, she created an eco-chefs’ network to promote ethical cuisine, as well as encourage communication across the food chain, from producers to consumers. In 2018, Corção launched Manivanet, a website created to share the discoveries, projects and events of the institute.
Corção has received a number of awards, including the Humanitarian Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals in 2010. She was also nominated for the Busque Culinary Award in 2016.
To speak about her journey, Corção talks to Chris and Ken about her transition from designer to chef, to manioc advocate, to an activist for sustainable food.