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A Casa do Porco: Nose-to-tail for everyone!

By: Reading Time: 4 Minutes

At A Casa do Porco in São Paulo nose-to-tail, i.e. the concept of whole animal use, is more than just put into practice – it’s celebrated. As the cheapest restaurant on the renowned World’s 50 Best list, the restaurant manages the feat of giving the pig a gourmet character – while still being a place for everyone. Even vegetarians.

As we all know, this whole nose-to-tail thing is nothing new. After all, the principle that not just a fillet, but rather the entire animal is a prime cut, has been upheld in every self-respecting kitchen for some time. This being the case, it perhaps comes as a surprise that there are few true nose-to-tail restaurants. In other words, those in which everything revolves around a single animal. Such a concept would be in tune with the times, wouldn’t it?

Besides being sustainable, nose-to-tail concepts also uphold moral principles by paying culinary homage to the whole animal. However, it’s also interesting from a business perspective. The cost of goods for many of these dishes is relatively low. In contrast, the guest is willing to pay a decent price for this craft. Simply because you can’t get this kind of thing everywhere – and it’s difficult to cook at home.

The cheapest restaurant on the 50 world's best restaurant list

Image: Mauro Hollanda

A Casa do Porco – the best restaurant in Brazil

That’s exactly what Janaína and Jefferson Rueda thought. In 2015, they opened A Casa do Porco in São Paulo, Brazil. A restaurant that’s all about the pig, and just the pig. In all its facets. That is, all its parts. Pork cheek sushi, tartare with melting pork bone marrow, pork crackling with guava, suckling pig tongue … almost every plate is creatively dedicated to pork. And with a success that the Ruedas never expected. Today, A Casa do Porco  ranks seventh among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Ranked fourth among Latin America’s 50 best restaurants – without a single Michelin star – it is even considered the best restaurant in Brazil. This is also because it’s actually about more than just pigs.

Nose to tail is in the family

“Originally, we planned to open a butcher’s shop,” recalls Janaína Rueda. At the time, she was married to Jefferson. They are now divorced, but still business partners. She had already gathered gastronomic experience with him, including at the São Pauloer Restaurant Bar da Dona Onça. “Jefferson is a trained butcher,” she explains. “So we thought it was the most sensible idea to play it safe when it came to our first project together. But more and more ideas came up during the planning phase – and at some point we couldn’t get this restaurant concept out of our heads.” Janaína remembered her great-grandparents in the countryside, who often slaughtered their own pigs. “I still know most of the cuts thanks to them,” she says.

Jefferson Rueda is a trained butcher

Image: Mauro Holanda

From an early age, Jefferson was taught how to prepare a Porco a Paraguaia, i.e. a whole pig – usually generously marinated – over the grill in Brazilian style. It goes without saying that a trained butcher also knows his trade when it comes to cuts. Therefore, after careful consideration, they opened their first restaurant together – and had a very specific vision right from the start. One that is still unusual today.

Dining at A Casa do Porco: Nose-to-tail bargains

This vision meant: creative pork dishes. Ones that are honest, authentic and for everyone. “From the very beginning, it was clear to us that we wanted to make a restaurant that everyone could afford. We aren’t an elite fine dining temple, but rather a culinary meeting place for everyone,” says Rueda. Indeed, A Casa do Porco is home to families, students, pensioners, tourists – but of course also well-traveled foodies.

A 15-course tasting menu for €40? It's possible at Casa do Porco

Image: Mauro Holanda

Many of them are surprised when they look at the prices: The 15-course tasting menu costs just 40 euros. Many à la carte dishes cost less than 10 euros. “We are the cheapest restaurant on the World’s 50 Best list,” says Janaína Rueda, who recently compared all the prices of the restaurants on the list with her team. From a European perspective in particular, the alarm bells often ring when such statements are made. What’s the catch? Is it perhaps because the Ruedas opt for cheap meat? Is the business being managed sensibly at all?

Spoiler alert: There is no catch. The adjoining bar, which offers a variety of cocktails, is undoubtedly an additional source of revenue. The high capacity utilization also ensures that prices remain relatively low in times of inflation. As cheap as the pork may be here, the guilty conscience, which quickly creeps up in such cases, has no place at A Casa do Porco.

At Casa do Porco you can also eat vegetarian, they have their own vegetable farm

Image: Rogério Gomes

The A Casa do Porco as a nose-to-tailconcept with vegetable farm

Around three hours’ drive from the restaurant, the Ruedas run a farm where different breeds of free-range pigs graze. “Each breed is suitable for different dishes or preparation methods,” explains Rueda. “For example, the lardo and head of the Nilo breed, which we serve as a single piece, taste the best. We usually grill the whole pig from the Sorocaba breed. But we also keep Duroc, Moura and some other crossbreeds.” And then there’s the vegetable farm, which doesn’t have any pigs at all. This is where Janaína Rueda needs to take a step back. After all, the fact that a nose-to-tailconcept operates a vegetable farm has a very specific reason.

A Casa do Porco as the flagship of a new generation

Image: Rogério Gomes

A Casa do Porco is the flagship of a new generation

“In the same building, one floor above us, there is an animal welfare organization that is committed to vegetarianism,” says Rueda, who can’t help but smile. “In 2018, we took this as an opportunity to expand our philosophy, which sees the restaurant as something that unites us. We did so by creating a vegetarian menu. Since then, we get along very well with our neighbors – and we now also have vegetarian regulars!”

It is this unifying understanding of gastronomy that drives Rueda – and ensures that she still has big plans. Soon she wants to set up an academy where young people are introduced to Brazil’s culinary wealth. “Brazil is such a huge country with an incredible variety of food and culinary traditions. I want the world to know more about Brazil!”


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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Alex Atala (@alexatala)

You’ll inevitably think of Alex Atala , who revolutionized Brazilian cuisine at his legendary restaurant D.O.M., just three miles from A Casa do Porco. In doing so, he ensured that Brazil developed a gastronomic reputation around twenty years ago. It’s time for the next generation, he recently said to KTCHNrebel. “We are the new generation,” assures Janaína Rueda.

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