By: Rafaela Polo
Choosing the profession we will have for the rest of our lives at age 18 can be a heavy burden. There are those who get it right first time, but there are also people who need to take a longer route to find out their real path. Rafaela Medeiros, 29, went through the second case and today she found satisfaction among cooking pots. About ten years ago, this Ceará native left her hometown, Pedra Branca (CE), and went to Fortaleza to study fashion. During the course, she began selling cupcakes and discovered in confectionery a much greater love than she felt for the fabrics. She then decided to take time off from college and devote herself to candies. “I went back to fashion for another period, but I never left the kitchen aside. I was divided”, says Rafaela.
The love she has for cooking came from her family. “My mother, aunts and grandparents have a connection with the kitchen. My great-grandmother had a bakery that my aunts, grandmother and mother took over after her death for a while, but then they closed. My grandmother also had a restaurant by the time my mother was a teenager, and she and her sisters ran the place. That’s where they learned how to cook”, she says.
Today she counts already four years in the kitchen, worked in several places, among them Divino Fogão and Mandi, one of the first vegetarian restaurants in Fortaleza. “After that I worked as a freelancer in the kitchen of some friend projects. In parallel, I have my own business, Pitanga Cozinha, a brand that sustains me today. I sell artisanal sweets and snacks based on my experience”, she says.
The project at the School of Social Gastronomy Ivens Dias Branco arose from a desire to learn more. “They launched 3-month courses of confectionery and baking, I signed up. I do not have a background in gastronomy, I believe that this support and learning would be good. But I was not approved”, she says. She then saw in Laboratório de Criação (Creation Lab) a second chance to specialize in the subject. “I wrote a project based on the experiences that I have making sweets. I see that the identity of confectionery in my State is banalized. I wanted to change that. After all, the sugar mill itself, for me, is a form of confectionery, since it produces sugar, from which comes the sweet”, says Rafaela. After two months of hard work with Thiago Andrade, chef of Brasil a Gosto Institute, Rafaela created the Leite de pedra (stone milk), a candy made with ingredients from her hometown – coconut and molasses. “The kitchen has an impact on everything in my life. I took another path to do something I love and live what I love. And that’s very strong, it goes beyond professional life, it’s important to my personal satisfaction”, she says.