The Petits Chefs ventured out on our final field trip for the term this week – checking out Mata Bar. I’ve been to Mata Bar a few times as it is in my neighbourhood and have impressed with the food, service and atmosphere each time. I reached out to Chef Felipe Faccioli to see if the boys and I might come along to learn a little bit about South American food and he was really excited to welcome our little group to the restaurant.
Mata has been serving Brazilian tapas (petisco) along with other South American dishes since June 12th 2014 – the day of the opening match of the 2014 World Cup. Before we got cooking, Faccioli gave the boys a short history of how he came to be a chef – not your typical culinary career path by any means – which I found fascinating and inspiring.
Coming to Canada with the idea of completing a Masters in Engineering (yes, he has a degree in biology!), Faccioli discovered how expensive it would be and realised that it was out of the question (at least when he first got here). With a chef for a mother, he had experience in the restaurant industry so he turned there to make a living, eventually training at George Brown College and working in various establishments around the city. With a few friends in the industry (Patrick Fraser, Tulio Lessa, Steve Fernandes and Sharath Dwarkanathan), they had the idea to open a restaurant and Mata Bar was born. The group spent nearly a year looking for the right space, then months preparing the space for opening in time for the World Cup opening match last year.
Faccioli talked the boys through some typical South American ingredients (namely beef and cassava) – timely because many of the boys in the club are in my Grade 6 class and we’ve been researching Haitian food where cassava plays a big part and then we got cooking.
The boys got to make Brazilian Mac Sliders (made with Top Sirloin, Catupiry Cheese and topped with a Secret Sauce) and I learned the neat trick of portioning the meat out with dry cup measures so there are equal amounts of meat in each.
Served with a side of cassava fries…
After our snack, the boys got to see Mata’s food truck – Made in Brasil – the winner of Food Network™’s Food Truck Face-Off, which offers Brazilian street food. It’s amazing that so much food can come out of such a small kitchen!
The boys loved the tradition of every diner receiving a bright ribbon to tie around their wrist as they leave, which is, as Chef Felipe told us, a Brazilian good-luck tradition. Printed with the Portuguese words for “longing, love, delicious, happiness, contentment, peace, health and friendship”, the ribbons are tied on your wrist with three knots. You make a wish with each knot and when the ribbon falls of your wrist, your wishes come true.
Thank you so much Felipe for taking time out of your day off to show the boys the restaurant and the food truck, for filling their heads with inspiring stories and their bellies with tasty food. We had a wonderful afternoon.
1690 Queen St W,
Toronto, ON M6R 1B3