Beach life is fabulous, there is no denying that, but sometimes we just want to run for the hills, escape into the forest, surround ourselves with creative bohemians and never return to our day jobs.
That’s where Santa Teresa comes in: Set high above the city, Santa Teresa’s crumbling colonial mansions (hives of brilliant paint and lyrical notes) line cobbled streets that are home to some of the city’s best local bars and restaurants. While the lazy Sunday afternoons of ginger cacahca and live samba are draw enough, Dehouche have recently found a new excuse to slip away up the hill- Hotel Santa Teresa’s new pool bar sponsored by Veuve Clicquot (hands down, some of the best views over Rio) and the new menu at in-house restaurant Tereze from French chef Damien Montecer.
Dehouche twisted Damien’s arm to join them for a drink at the pool bar:
What is your style? My style is about experimenting and bringing out the best in Brazilian produce, often using more complex techniques picked up in France, like pressure and vacuum cooking. The aim is to keep the product really fresh, like palm hearts- you need to treat it really well to bring out the flavour. The only thing I bring in from outside is foie gras, all the products I use, even the truffle oil, is Brazilian.
Tereze cooking? To be a new chef generation, you have to teach the people. I am a French guy and I teach people here in the Brazilian community skills I learnt in France. There are people who were with us from the beginning. Francois, the owner of HST, said, ‘We are going to pick our staff from the community and teach them everything, even how to make foie gras terrine.’ 3 years later, 80 per cent of the team in the restaurant and kitchen are from local neighbourhoods, all the guys know how to make macaroons and croissants and we give them a chance to learn, so that the hotel becomes a real part of the community- it is good for them and for us.
Where to eat in Santa? I love Aprazivel but my favourite local place for food is Nega Teresa. She is a big fat black Bahian woman who makes acaraje every Thurdsay through till Sunday from a family recipe that has been passed down through the generations. There is always a big circle of locals surrounding her, drinking beer and chatting. I love it because her acaraje is the same as it has been for 50 years. The recipe has stayed exactly the same and this is very hard to do- I give her a lot of respect for this.
Why do you love Santa? I love living here because it is like living in a little village: Sometimes there is no bread, but instead a guy who comes every morning at 5 o clock and toots his horn, come and buy bread, just like in the French country side. So here you go around and everyone says hello- this is very typical of people in Santa Teresa.
Inspiration? I went to Bahia 2 months ago and went to an island 2 hours by boat from the mainland and this guy was making lobster on the grill, and on the menu they had just a burger, a lobster burger, with bread and lime and a huge grilled lobster tail inside, and it was just like this with chips, and I was like ‘How good is that’. So fresh, so now I make it here with a tartare sauce.
Who to cook for? I have cooked for both Bruce Willis and Madonna when they were visiting, but the coup d’etat was cooking for Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni in 2008 before they went to see Lula. We had only been open 3 months and had them to stay for the night. My family didn’t believe me… after that I knew I could cook for anyone.