At Texas de Brazil, the churrascaria
concept reflects a heritage started long ago in the Rio Grande do Sul
region of Brazil, where the churrasco style of cooking meats got its
Dallas – Amid the festive ambience of Texas de Brazil, authentically
attired gauchos (Brazilian cowboys) roam from table to table with
skewers of specially seasoned and slow-roasted meats that are cooked
over an open flame. Using savvy swordmanship, they carve these
delicacies tableside, creating an elegant and bountiful feast.
From the Brazilian gauchos to the 400-item wine list and South American
selections and the menu of classic Brazilian cocktails like the
caipirinha, Texas de Brazil is a destination where guests can immerse
themselves in a dining experience, rather than just a place to have
dinner. The upscale chain, which is based in Dallas and has eight
locations throughout the United States with a ninth slated to open in
Chicago in November, features an all-you-can-eat selection of 15
grilled meats that are prepared and served in the churrascaria
tradition from the plains of southern Brazil and Argentina.
Texas de Brazil is emerging as the premiere churrascaria in the United
States, reflecting a tradition started long ago in a region of Brazil
called Rio Grande do Sul. Churrasco is the Brazilian way to prepare
barbecue, and churrascarias are restaurants dedicated to serving meats
in the churrasco way.
Most of Rio Grande do Sul is covered by the pampas, which are wide,
flat and grassy plains that favor the farming of cattle. The gauchos
developed a precise way to prepare churrasco, incorporating the
following elements: plenty of meat, few condiments (usually only salt,
which was - and still is – an important component in feeding animals),
a coal oven (wood was found everywhere, but gas wasn´t), a slow cooking
process (gauchos spent long periods away from home, so they were not
rushed); and tremendous skill with knives.
Gauchos called it churrasco, which is Brazilian Barbecue. Though this
style of Barbecue wasn't based on smoke like that of the United States,
it has all the traditions and elements of an American Barbecue.
Churrasco started in the 16th and 17th centuries and spread throughout
Brazil in the 1940s as the gauchos were found across the country.
Originally the standard formula for Brazilian style barbecue was to
coat meats in coarse salt. The meat would then sit for about 30 minutes
to absorb the salt before it was placed over the fire. Later, a
saltwater baste was used to keep meats moist during cooking. Beef was
typically never seasoned. Meats were situated on long sword-like
skewers and cooked over an open fire.
Churrasco is more than a way of cooking in Rio Grande do Sul, it's a
way of life. The barbecue capital of Brazil is the city of Nova
Brescia, which boasts a statue of a man cooking barbecue in the central
plaza. In the 1940s, the city had a population of about 150,000. Since
then, the figure has dropped to 30,000 because to the mass exodus of
people leaving to open barbecue restaurants across Brazil.
At Texas de brazil, before the meats arrive, guests are treated to
cinnamon-sprinkled sweet fried plantains, garlic mashed potatoes and a
two-sided coaster. In the Brazilian custom, guests signify their
preferences by which side the coaster is on – green means go, and red
means no. With savvy swordsmanship, the gauchos slice portions from
skewers of picanha and garlic picanha (ribeye), filet mignon,
bacon-wrapped filet mignon, beef ribs, alcatra (top sirloin), fradinha
(bottom sirloin), cordiero (leg and rack of lamb), lombo (pork loin and
Parmesan pork loin) costela de porco (pork ribs), linguica (Brazilian
sausage), and frango (chicken legs and bacon-wrapped chicken breasts).
Guests can have as little or as much as they want.
At the helm of the culinary ladder at Texas de Brazil is Evandro
Caregnato, the corporate executive chef who is from the Rio Grande do
Sul region. In his role, Caregnato instructs grill masters in authentic
churrasco preparation techniques, trains meat carvers and develops menu
The churrascaria is familiar territory for Caregnato who learned
churrasco from his grandfather; a restaurant owner in Brazil. Caregnato
worked as a grill master when he was just 16 and opened his first
restaurant at 19 before earning a bachelors degree in business
administration from the University of Caxias do Sul, Brazil, and
certification from the Scuola di Arte Culinaria Cordon Bleu Perugia in
In 1997, when Texas de Brazil founding partners Salah Izzedin and his
nephew, Salim Asrawi were planning on opening a churrascaria in the
United States, they visited Brazil and found Caregnato’s restaurant.
They talked and Caregnato agreed to visit Texas de Brazil headquarters
in Dallas as a consulting chef. He became corporate executive chef in
Providing an authentic churrasco experience at each location is Caregnato’s main ambition.
“Wherever we open, we keep it authentic and traditional, in the same
exact way it has been done for centuries in South Brazil,” he
explained. “We will not serve variations or adapt the churrasco to any
Carvers, Caregnato says, are essential to the churrascaria.
“The carver, or meat server, is the most important and
challenging position for any churrascaria,” he said about the team
members that undergo an intensive six-month training program. “Our
carvers are a mix of chefs and servers.
“They are chefs because they have to understand the complexity of cooking over an
open flame, how to control the heat from the natural charcoal and how
to use the marinades,” he added. “They are servers because they are
expected to give guests a pleasant experience with professional and
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