Alex Atala: One of the most important souvenirs for a traveller is flavour

In an interview at Design Indaba 2013, Alex Atala explains how a change in attitude towards food can help people and the environment.

Brazilian chef Alex Atala believes that one of the most important souvenirs for a traveller is flavours from a country. He explains that one entire culture can be summed up in three flavours: “If I said soya sauce, ginger and seaweed your mind goes to Japan. If I said tomato, basil and mozzarella, your mind goes to Italy”, says Atala. Here he explains how he wants to sum up the taste of the Amazon for locals and visitors.

For Atala everything he finds and sees inspires how he cooks and what he plates. “I never know the exact recipe I will make until the last minute”, he says.

For me creativity is not about doing something that has never been done before, it’s about doing something that surprises, says Atala.

Atala believes that old ideas can be more intelligent and modern than new ideas. “Creativity is organic, spontaneous and intuitive, but it’s based on a person’s background and previous experiences”, says Atala.

For Atala, being a chef is more about making delicious food; it’s about being an active agent in sustainability. He believes that people should use an entire ingredient without wasting or throwing away anything.  If this is done, Atala believes that different layers of flavour and texture can be created.

Using an entire ingredient is more than being sustainable, it’s being respectful to the environment, says Atala. 

Watch the Talk with Alex Atala