Passion for cooking

Chef Carmem
Chef CarmemBecause of the complicated financial situation at home, my sister and I were obligated to help my mom with the housework. There was very little time to play with my brothers in the back yard. This would explain the importance that led to these wonderful memories. These were magical hours, bonding me to my younger sister as we lost track of time playing with dolls made from coffee tree branches that we made. My sister changed their clothes made of banana leaves, combed their hair and we created accessories for them to go out on the town. However, what I really fell in love with was to be able to cook for all of them! I cooked real food and prepared it properly on an outdoor campfire. My mother was always around taking care of things, and it was she that made corrections when I needed different pans or more flour. Despite my great affection for cooking, there were very few ingredients at my disposal during that time. The main course used to be yuca flour with water and salt, and a small piece of meat for each of us. Yet I confess that the dolls were demanding, it takes a lot of imagination and creativity to work in that kitchen! This was a difficult childhood… So when I turned 8 years old my parents decided to try their Bonequinhasluck in a big city. We left for São Paulo on one of those trucks called, “pau-de-macaw” which means macaw stick; americans of the north know this truck as a “stake body”, and we left with no particular destination in mind. Even today I am proud of the courage my parents had by just dropping everything for the uncertain, the unknown. It would be necessary to write a book to tell the details of this long adventure. After a few years we decided to move to Ubatuba, a seaside town of São Paulo. It was here that I lived for many years, where I had my three wonderful children, and of course, where the sequence of events gave way to my future in my passion for cooking. With much effort and perseverance I was able to open my own restaurant, called “Maria Maria”, a tribute to the women in the family. Now with much more kitchen equipment, I could develop my culinary skills. The dolls would end up gaining weight if they were still with me! Although the restaurant had its Golden moments, management and maintenance required a lot of work, and a lot of hours. It was no simple task to maintain an establishment dealing with many customers and take care of food quality with very few employees. I decided to follow the footsteps of my parents and dare go to another city. Change again the certain for the uncertain looking for better times and a better life. So I packed my bags and said goodbye to my family and headed towards New York. As might be expected, the beginning of this new stage in my life was complicated. Adapting to a new and different culture, climate and especially another language always takes time. I learned from my parents that “old age does not reach those who always seek their dream with determination”, and so the old never proved to be an obstacle. I feel young and I am aware that there is always something new to learn and to introduce in my recipes. After working in the kitchens of different places, I decided to be my own chef and created my own brand of homemade goods: Golden Bites®. Everything that I learned in the kitchen all my life is applied with great care and dedication in the cookies and cakes that I have been preparing. If at first my desire was to serve the dolls, today it is to spread my brand and serve as many people as possible. More than gastronomic knowledge, however, I want to be able to leave a lesson for my children and grandchildren: “With great faith and determination we can realize our dreams.”