Food & Drink

New Restaurant Proves There’s More to Brazilian Food than Beef and Beans

From the daughter of the Tempero do Brasil owners, Alcove opens Aug. 2

By Chelsea Lin July 25, 2018

alcove-pic

When chef Emme Ribeiro Collins says she wants it to feel like diners are eating in her home, she’s not being facetious. She’s grown up within the walls of one University District restaurant. It’s quite literally her home.

Ribeiro Collins was just six when her family moved to Seattle from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, in 1994. Her mom owned a catering company out of their home in Brazil; in Seattle, in 1999, her parents opened Brazilian restaurant Tempero do Brasil on University Way NE. That restaurant would have turned 20 next year, but it closed last October so the Ribeiros could settle into semi-retirement.

Though she’s been cooking for many years now and also loves the service side of the industry, Ribeiro Collins (also a mom to three young kids) says she swore she’d never, ever open a restaurant—she’d seen how her parents hustled and struggled. But she couldn’t stand to see the place go. Instead, she took over; her own restaurant, Alcove, opens for dinner August 2.

Seattle is not a city known for its Latin American food. Brazilian cuisine is particularly misunderstood. “I feel like a lot of people have the miscommunication that anything Latin is just rice and beans,” Ribeiro Collins says, laughing. Don’t even get her started on the churrascarias, the Brazilian steakhouses that make up what most people here know of Brazilian cuisine, but is actually representative of only a small geographic portion of the country.

She’s hoping diners will come into Alcove with an open mind. Much of the food she’ll be cooking is Bahian, since that’s where she’s from and what her mom knew best. She describes that food as similar to Southern food here in the U.S., heavily inspired by African ancestry. But she wants to explore all of Brazilian cuisine, honing in on specialty ingredients that she happens to find here, like pequi, a Brazilian fruit that works well in savory dishes. Though she’s grown up with home-style cooking, Ribeiro Collins also attended culinary school, so expect a certain level of sophistication.

Alcove will be open Thursdays through Sundays, and is reservation only. The point of that is not to create a fussy, fine dining pretentiousness, but rather embrace the Brazilian culture of dining together as community. (Ribeiro Collins says her experience working as a private chef—including a gig with Eddie Vedder—reinforced that desire to have every meal enjoyed together in a single seating.) The meals will be a combination of family-style platter and individual plates. All reservation tickets can be purchased through Tock.

“I don’t feel completely Brazilian; I don’t feel 100 percent American,” Ribeiro Collins says. “[Opening this restaurant] feels like a unique opportunity to put out who I am as a person—in food.”

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