Sao Paulo Chef Brings Twist on Brazilian Street Food to Smorgasburg

By Dana Varinsky on May 1, 2014 1:01pm 

 Carlos Bertolazzi holds up a coxinha. He will serve his take on the Brazilian street food at Smorgasburg on Saturday.
Carlos Bertolazzi holds up a coxinha. He will serve his take on the Brazilian street food at Smorgasburg on Saturday.
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Mauricio Schuartz

WILLIAMSBURG — A Brazilian chef will be serving his take on coxinhas, the country’s popular fried snack, at Smorgasburg this Saturday.

Carlos Bertolazzi, the head chef at Per Paolo and Zena Caffe in Sao Paulo, is coming to Williamsburg as part of an exchange program between Smorgasburg and Feirinha Gastronomica, a similar outdoor food fair in Brazil. Typically, coxinhas are doughy fried pastries filled with chicken. For his Williamsburg audience, however, Bertolazzi is filling the dough with duck confit.

“He created this to come to New York, because he thought New Yorkers would love the concept of having duck inside of this typical Brazilian snack,” said Mauricio Schuartz, the organizer of the exchange program.

Schuartz said Smorgasburg was an inspiration to him when he founded the Feirinha Gastronomica in Sao Paulo. Currently, he has 35 vendors at the fair each week. Last year, he reached out to Smorgasburg co-founder Eric Demby to create an exchange program between the two markets.

“We loved the idea that we could bring vendors from Smorgasburg to Brazil, because mainly what you see in terms of exchange is famous chefs coming to Brazil to cook a dinner for 50 to 80 very rich people in one restaurant,” he said. “So we decided to make it more democratic and bring someone to cook in a market for the general public.”

Bertolazzi will be the second Brazilian chef to have a one-day appearance at Smorgasburg. Lucas Corazza, a modernist pastry chef, served his creations in November 2013.

Smorgasburg favorites have also traveled to Sao Paulo to serve their fare. Jack’s Chedbred sold cornbread to Brazilian audiences in February, and Ramen Burger took the craze to the Ferinha in November 2013. Schuartz said the chefs served 750 ramen burgers in one day, with customers waiting in line 2.5 hours to get a taste.

“Everyone was crazy to try this new ramen bun with a burger inside,” Schuartz said. “When you have a ramen burger, you pretty much have the very best expression of how American culture absorbs all the references from abroad. We’re always trying to bring this experience to the Brazilian public.”

Schuartz said that although Bertolazzi’s restaurants specialize in Italian food, he wanted to bring typical Brazilian flavors to New York.

“We are starting to present not only the fancy food from Brazil, the top chefs, but the typical street food from Brazil to the American general public,” he said.

As part of their exchange, the chefs also share their kitchens. The coxinhas will be cooked in Jack Sorock’s kitchen, where his chedbred is baked. 

Bertolazzi will begin pre-production on his coxinhas Thursday, and will sell 500 at Smorgasburg Saturday. Each will cost $5, and Schuartz said he anticipates they will move quickly.  

“We expect them to be sold out in 3 to 4 hours,” he said.

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