Meet the Jungle Cook Alex Atala

Brazil's top chef puts the Amazon on a plate

Edu Simoes / The Guardian

In the rain forest outside So Paulo, Atala harvests the tuber manioc.

On a recent summer day, the chef of the best restaurant in South America went to tour the pepper fields of a group of female farmers. No culinary idyll, the journey required a two-hour trek through dense jungle and a stop to dig up a bucket of ants for lunch. Halfway there, the roar of a jetliner penetrated the canopy. But this was no plane; it was rain so thoroughly drenching of clothes, shoes and earth that the chef's small group gave up trying to cross over the now raging streams and simply waded through them, boots and all. This, in...

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