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At the age of 70, chef and consultant Ana Soares celebrates Christmas with 400 suppers


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Those who go around São Paulo’s restaurants and bars must have tasted many of Ana Soares’ recipes without even knowing it. Although this woman from Guararapes gained fame and awards at the Mesa III rotisserie, which opened in 1995, the range of her creations is much greater.

An architect by training, Soares is a machine for inventing recipes. She has already created more than a hundred menus for establishments inside and outside the city —Cia. Traditional stores, such as Pirajá, Lanchonete da Cidade and Original, and Adega Santiago.

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The pasta that Ana produces also goes a long way. Of the 4,000 kilos produced monthly, just over half is sold in the two rotisserie units. The remainder is sent to shelves at other establishments, such as the luxury emporium Santa Luzia, as well as bars and restaurants that do not have their own production.

December is usually the most frenetic month in Table III domains. When the 24th arrives, the team of 40 employees will have delivered around 400 Christmas dinners, with a minimum order of R$600.

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In the midst of this frenzy, between a meeting with clients and an inspection of the new factory, Ana found time to talk. She spoke about age, the new phase of life and advanced future projects — which are not few.

“I’ve always consulted a lot because I’m restless, I always need to be creating, but now I want my factory to be my central axis again. I’m going back home.”

When does your Christmas start?

In August [risos]🇧🇷 I start using the days off to build inventory, collect data from previous years and make room to store frozen production. I rent a cold room for this, as well as extra freezers that I put in stores.

Until December 12th, we accept orders. After that, one has to choose from the ready stock. And I only book for one day, but I can’t.

After almost a semester dealing with these suppers, do you still have an appetite to celebrate Christmas?

In my house, I cook every day, I need to give this to my loves. But, on our Christmas, I don’t serve the meals from Table III, I make family dishes. On the 24th, Italian recipes are on my side: cold starters, roasted peppers, eggplants, marinades, and capelete in brodo is never lacking, even in the heat.

The next day, my husband’s family’s Portuguese dishes come, and cod is a must. I never stop wanting to eat.

What are the recipes that most marked your career?

The pumpkin dumpling with dried meat, which I created years ago for Pirajá, was copied a lot. The hamburger bun from Lanchonete da Cidade too. We wanted a more Brazilian reading for the hamburger and I invented this round French bread. It wasn’t easy to find the right shape and texture, on the eve of the inauguration I panicked…

In the masses, I think the architecture of bicolor artichoke cappelacci translates me. To support the heavy filling, the bottom dough is more structured. What did I go through inventing this…

Since 1996, when he created the first menu for the opening of the Original bar, his pace of creation has been intense. Never get tired?

The only thing I never get tired of is creating. I just get a little nervous when it comes to teaching the kids how to chop food properly: diagonal is for a recipe, a square for something else. At this, I really lose patience.

On the other hand, today I have more calm to study. I’ve always done things on the “feeling” basis, without reflecting much beforehand, but now it’s time. I’m going back home.

What does that mean?

I’ve made so many menus, for so many people, that I forget. Sometimes it started with a simple hunch and grew. Many don’t even divulge it, because I never insisted, but now Mesa III needs to be my center of attention again.

The rotisserie also grew like this, without me being able to stop and think, in my eagerness to solve my clients’ problems. I only sold pasta. Then someone asked for a starter, and I made it up. A dessert, and I created it too.

At the end of the day, I have a big menu, with items that aren’t necessarily part of my kitchen. I need to give it a whirl.

In what sense will these changes be?

For example, why do I sell quiche? It’s not part of my culture, it would be better to sell a pie that my mother made. Or my family’s bowls, my mother’s cabbage pie with eggs and parmesan. But changes like that require a lot of confidence, people don’t always understand this more homemade cuisine.

Would the new factory store be a start of this movement?

I always wanted to have a factory like the one in Vila Romana. I made an effort to reach a more familiar audience, because I’m in a neighborhood of Italian tradition, of Sunday pasta. For this, I reduced production costs. They are simpler ingredients and processes, but the craft language is the same.

The place turned out beautiful, a building that used to belong to Indústrias Matarazzo. You walk in and see everyone working. I designed the production all glazed because I wanted to show the hands making the pasta. You can see the dry pasta and stuffed pasta sections, the packaging area and even the wood oven, which is the basis of our kitchen.

Why did you close the cafe that operated in the other store?

It ceased to exist in the pandemic, and has not yet been resumed, because maintaining a table service requires a lot of attention. But I’m already thinking about going back with him. I keep looking at the spaces, thinking “what if I put a table here?”. I don’t know, I have to mature the idea.

Has the pandemic brought about many changes?

made me scared [risos]🇧🇷 I’m a risk group, right? Look at all this silver here [mostra os cabelos grisalhos]🇧🇷

What else to expect from 2023?

Making a book is in my plans, I want to document everything I’ve done. Pasta remains a mind-blowing subject for me. I’ve never used machines, but today I believe I can use them as well as my hands.

I also think about growing in other ways, having partners, maybe outsourcing. And I need to be more present in the stores, teaching. I like this contact. Look, you can take this pasta here, combine it with this sauce here. Show how people can turn the kitchen into a bunch of good stuff.

At the same time, I want to go back to reading, calm down to attend an art exhibition, which I always leave full of ideas. I love taking things from the inside out, but everything in its own time. My rush needs to be calmed.

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