A kitchen in Beirut with a Brazilian taste
24 de maio de 2016
São Paulo – With a broad menu that includes coxinha (fried chicken dumpling), cheese bread, feijoada (Brazilian national dish with black beans), brigadeiro (truffle-like sweets) and curau (corn pudding), Lebanese Michel Hattouni has been running the Brazilian food delivery service Cozinha Dona da Casa in Beirut for seven years straight. In all, the company’s menu has more than 30 typical savoury and sweet dishes.
Hattouni lived in Brazil for eight years, married a Brazilian woman and went back to his homeland. “We owned a hot dog and sausage stand at Brás”, recalls the business man on his time living in the capital of São Paulo state.
Back in Lebanon, the kitchen was the business chosen to support the family. “We started to work [in Beirut] and later I went back to Brazil to learn the techniques to make snacks”, he explains.
Hattouni says that he doesn’t run the business alone. His wife and five kids also help out, according to the number of orders. “When there are large orders, everyone works”, he says.
The business owner says that cooking became part of his life a long time ago. “My family had a restaurant before the war [Lebanon’s civil war]. I used to work in the kitchen since I was little. I started when I was eight”, recalls Hattouni, 52 years old. Currently, the dishes he likes to cook the most are desserts, such as pave (trifle-like dessert) and mousse, and snacks such as coxinha and empadas (little pies).
Cozinha Dona da Casa’s clientes have an interesting profile. “They’re Lebanese men that married Brazilian women, Lebanese women married to Brazilian men and Lebanese people that lived in Brazil and came back to Lebanon and appreciate Brazilian food”, he says.
Per day, Hattouni prepares around 40 to 50 dishes. There are different types of orders, ranging from meals to birthday parties, celebratory dinners and luncheons, up to diplomatic events. “Brazil’s embassy always orders food here for gala events and on Independence Day”, he tells.
Among the most ordered are feijoada, cheese bread and bobó de camarão (shrimp dish). “The cheese bread is very famous and there is no feijoada like ours”, assures the Lebanese man. Besides the food, Cozinha Dona da Casa also has typical Brazilian beverages, such as guaraná (guaraná soda), batidas (fruit drinks) and caipirinha (sugar cane and lemon drink).
However, to bring Brazilian cuisine’s taste to Lebanese dinner tables is not a simple job, since some ingredients are not easily found there. “Cod is hard to find here. We have passion fruit, but it’s not the same as in Brazil, and the bacon also is not as tasty”, he said.
Orders can be made via phone at 01-505 078 or 03-912 254, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org e email@example.com. The prices range from USD 6 to USD 15. The company’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/Cozinha-Dona-Da-Casa-130187457129101/timeline.
*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani