Published October 2021
Thiago Castanho started his career in gastronomy when he was 16 years old, and he could have never imagined that almost 20 years later he would be the protagonist of Amazonian gastronomic art and one of the most influential chefs in the country. “My father opened a place to serve food without any experience in the field, but he enjoyed cooking, and at that time, he had to support his family. Even as a child, I went to school in the morning and helped him whenever I could. Later, at 16 years old, I understood that my future could be in this area,” he recalls.
His father’s place, Remanso do Peixe (Fish Haven), is still open. Its traditional menu remains the same to continue pleasing the oldest and most loyal restaurant’s customers.
Thiago traveled to São Paulo from Belém in Pará, Brazil, where he studied Gastronomy at Senac, in Campos de Jordão. “Then, I spent six months in Portugal, where I discovered that I could create my own cuisine using regional ingredients as my father had taught me years before.”
This was the objective of Remanso do Bosque (Forest Haven), a restaurant Thiago kept until April 2020 in Belém. The place, which became an absolute reference in Northern food and Amazonian flavors, was opened by the chef when he was barely 21 and it could serve 200 people. “These 10 years were of much creative madness. Before the pandemic, we wanted to open a smaller restaurant called “BaYuca.” Still, we had to change our plans because of the pandemic. We closed Remanso do Bosque and postponed the opening of this new project,” he says.
The great success reached by Remanso do Bosque made Thiago become a famous kitchen star, and he was invited to participate in different television programs. After many special participations, he developed his own project, Sabores da Floresta (Forest Flavors), shown in Canal Futura, whose profile is more documentary. “I used to watch Anthony Bourdain’s shows [American chef who died in 2018] and wanted to do something with that identity but related to the Amazon region. There were four seasons of Cooks in Action on GNT, which had much visibility. Then, I created the Sabores da Floresta project, which reached Canal Futura”, he recalls. “We traveled through a large part of the Amazon region shooting 13 episodes, each one focused on one ingredient. We also invited other chefs to participate in the program. It was the show of my dreams!”
Thiago explains that he had often missed references to flavors from the north of Brazil as they were scarce in the country. “I always intended to give access to the information that I had been collecting locally, through the program and the book “Cozinha de Origem” published in 2013.”
Recently, Thiago made a tour of Asia, looking for references for “BaYuca.” He comments that it has received strong influences from Asian gastronomy. “I like Japanese food very much, and I see many similarities between that cuisine and the gastronomy in Pará, such as the preference for broths. I also went to Vienna and Thailand because we are at the same latitude. I found out that several ingredients and preparations are similar to ours,” he explains. “I prepare some dishes with that connection, such as Okonomiyaki, which I make with piracuí (typical fish flour from the Amazon region) and jambu (an Amazonian fruit). For example, in Remanso do Bosque, we serve a typical Chinese dish, a version of fried fish with açaí, a traditional preparation from Pará. I also went to Mexico, and it was a great inspiration because they make corn tortillas, and I made a version of it using cassava flour. “
In addition to his gastronomic projects in Belém and Sabores da Floresta, Thiago Castanho has his own channel on YouTube, where he shares his distinctive personal recipes. You will be amazed by his creative preparations that use the unique flavors from the north of Brazil.