NK: Welcome to Niki’s kitchen! What are your first impressions teaching cooking?
I used to be a teacher in my country, but it was the first time I tried to give a cooking class. It was a real pleasure and I was thrilled! The group was amazing and very interested in the class and that made me feel nostalgia for the old times as a teacher.
NK: You just moved to Japan from Shanghai. How do you like it so far?
I am very happy to be here! I have already made many friends, organised my place and routine. My family in Brazil wants to come here. My sister married a half Japanese and half Spanish man, so their children want to know theirs grandfather’s country. It is incredible but I have a nephew named Akira Sasaki with Asian green eyes!
Renata’s “feijoada”, Brazilian bean
NK: Your husband is a diplomat, many people see only the luxurious side of that kind of lifestyle. How would you describe a life of constant change?
Well, i haven’t seen the luxury life yet, in sense of opulence. The reality is a bit different. But, yes, I have a very interesting life because I can experience many cultures. Sometimes the
moving gets hard. It's difficult to live far from our family and country. The process of starting a new life in a foreign place and 2 or 3 years later moving to another country introduces plenty of challenges. On the order hand, we are able to make friends all over world, change routines, feel different smells and tastes and all this mixed together makes us open minded, stronger and more suitable to adapt to difficult circumstances. Life can brings many surprises! l never thought that one day I would be a cooking teacher in Japan! This is absolutely fantastic!
Class table setting
NK: How would you describe Brazil of today?
Brazil is a continental country with plenty of resources and a large population. It has five different geographical regions in which you can experience delicious kinds of food. The Brazilian economy is quite big and the country produces almost everything. I miss it!!!
NK: What is the unique food culture of your country?
Jabuticaba! It is a fruit that is only in Brazil. Brazil is a huge country with many influences from different cultures. It's important to consider diversity of climate, geography and the blended population. We have the biggest Japanese community out of Japan, followed by Spanish, Italian, Lebanese and another small communities. Add to that the Indigenous culture, Portuguese and Africans. So, we have all these mixed aspects in our food.
NK: Your favourite food is…
Rice and beans is my comfort food. It is the most popular combination in my entire country. We enjoy it everyday during lunch time. Besides that, it is a very “democratic” dish because it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, you are going to eat it. Renata’s
NK: Could you recommend a Brazilian restaurant in Tokyo?
Barbacoa. It is an amazing Brazilian steak house.
NK: What would you like to learn while in Japan?
Ohh my god! So many things…starting with a bit of Japanese. I am not good in foreign languages, but I will try to learn a bit of your language in order to better understand your culture. Japan has an extraordinary culture, food and friendly people. I want to learn as much as I can.
NK: Your message to future students…
Food is culture! Learning how to make other country’s food is a way to travel abroad. Everytime you taste a new flavor you open a window in your mind and heart. Enjoy it!
Renata joined Niki’s kitchen in November 2016. You may reserve her class on Niki’s kitchen website.
<Interviewer Jelena from Greek>