It felt like a sunday family lunch when the guests of the Social Gastronomy Summit 2018 arrived at the Diamantes da Cozinha Project. Taking place in Méier, a neighbourhood in the northern area of  Rio de Janeiro, the project trains students vulnerable to socio-economic inequality in entrepreneurship and gastronomy. On the 4th of November, it held one of the learning journeys that happened in the first day of the Summit, which was organized by Gastromotiva. The goal on this day was to have a full immersion in the existing projects in Rio de Janeiro. And Diamantes da Cozinha was found as it sets itself to be: with open doors.

In the search for social impact after working in France, João Diamante (project founder) comes back to Brazil, also seeking to value his country’s food. And so Diamantes da Cozinha is born, based on the “one for all and all for brazilian food” motto. It promotes self-development for the students as well as teaching gastronomy. “Here we don’t seek to train people on cooking, but nurture them into cooking and changing lives”, says Raphaela Nezinho, a former student of the project.

Practicing what they learned, the students of the current class presented their small enterprises. There were various dishes, from brigadeiros (fudge balls) to empadinhas (small pot pies): one could say lack of food was not a issue. Looking for new opportunities, entrepreneuring has shown itself to be the key to a new reality for many people. A research from SEBRAE (Brazilian Service of Support to Small and Micro Enterprises, in English), taken in 2017, revealed that 59% of the brazilians are looking for entrepreneuring opportunities. And this is why Diamantes da Cozinha exists.

Priscila Santana and Raphaela Nezinho, former students of the projects that together run a buffet, are the success models of the project. “The learning didn’t end when the finished the course”, says Raphaela. To Priscila, the initiative was a coincidence: she was about to give up on gastronomy when, encouraged by her husband, she enrolled in the course. Today she found a new dream, alongside her friend, through the project.

Their reality is an exception to the rule. In the kitchen of Diamantes da Cozinha, they found what few do: opportunity. During the learning journey, the Summit guests debated the importance of encouraging these new entrepreneurs and small producers. For this, the community must work together. “The most important goal is to see, through gastronomy or any other way, that several people think the same way you do”, João Diamante concludes.

Text: Júlia Pontes

Photos: Eduardo Almeida