Helena Rizzo, who hails from Porto Alegre, was born in 1978, the daughter of Ivone, an artist,and Roberto, an engineer. She dabbled in architecture during a brief stint at university. At 18,she decided to leave the family home and move to São Paulo.

While working at jobs like modeling, she was a waitress for the caterer Neka Menna Barreto andintern in the kitchen for the restaurants Roanne, by Emmanuel Bassoleil, and Gero, by GrupoFasano. After being invited to head the kitchen at Na Mata Café, it began to dawn on her thatperhaps gastronomy was her field. At 21, she saved up some money, packed up the notebookshe used for drawing and recording her dreams, and set off for Europe. She worked as an internat the restaurants La Torre and Sadler, in Italy.

One day, she went out for dinner with friends at the famous El Celler de Can Roca, in Girona(Spain), and everything began to make sense. At that moment, she grasped that food could be aform of artistic expression and not just rote, monotonous work, as had been her experience upto that point. After a lot of convincing, she got a “yes” from Joan Roca, one of the owners. Inthe kitchen at Celler, she tamed her anxiety. Helena spent four months at the restaurant inGirona and a year at Moo, a restaurant owned by the Roca family in Barcelona. It was at Cellerthat she met Daniel Redondo, chef de cuisine at the time. She fell in love.

After returning to São Paulo, she received an offer from friends to open a restaurant. She invitedDaniel to move to Brazil and share the kitchen with her. In 2006, Maní was born. At therestaurant, they create contemporary cuisine deeply rooted in ingredients symbolic of Braziliancooking. Their creations, at time extravagant, at times straight forward, reflect memories andlove. Helena still draws in her notebook and, once in while, on Maní’s walls.

Awards
  • #51| Mani |The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, 2016
  • #4| Mani| Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, 2014
  • Veuve ClicquotLatin America’s Best Female Chef, 2013 |Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards
  • Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef, 2013 |The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards

Recipes

Mani Restaurant

Rua Joaquim Antunes

210 Jardim Paulistano

São Paulo 05415 000

Brazil

+55 11 3085 4148

manimanioca.com.br