By honouring his heritage and the culinary region of South America where he was raised, Ede Rodrigues has firmly established his culture and traditions in our meat-loving city at Gaucho, a Brazilian barbeque restaurant.

A lifelong dedication to doing what he loves, and seeing his goals come to fruition through hard work, have rewarded Chef Ede Rodrigues and his co-owner wife Rosina, with a thriving business. They have seen incredible progress over the past decade, from simple catered family functions to two restaurants both hitting their stride.

Gaucho, in Brazilian churrascaria style, offers a rodízio service where guests pay a set price and ‘passadores’ (meat waiters) bring several different types of meat on skewers, cutting off slices or chunks at your table, until you signal them to stop. This style of service is ideal for lengthy dinners but can be sped up for quicker lunches as well.

Ede and Rosina stress that the food and experience are exactly as you would find where Ede grew up, without cutting any corners. “Everything here is as it would be in Brazil,” Rosina said. “We don’t do coconut rice, that’s not Brazilian rice,” she added. “So we do our garlic and bay-leaf rice, and our marinades are traditional Brazilian marinades.” “You’ve got to know how to butcher and get the right cuts of meat and how to do the marinades,” Ede added.

“The service of the meat too,” Rosina said. “Knowing how to cut the meat with straight-edged knives not serrated knives. One of the first things our servers learn is how to sharpen their knives. A lot of the magic of Brazilian barbeque is in the cut. It’s thin slices and if you get someone who’s trying to serve you a massive hunk of meat, and particularly beef, because Brazilians don’t marinade it unless it’s Parmesan beef, you’ve got to know how to cut it properly, otherwise it’s just going to taste like a hunk of beef.”

Working in restaurants since the age of 16, Ede learned everything he could about Brazilian barbeque before being offered a chance to cook in Japan at the age of 24. His boss at the time was opening a restaurant but needed staff that knew the proper way to cook.

“First I thought, ‘Wow, Japan, what can I do there, really? It’s so different,’” Ede said. “Then I thought I want to see some of the world and see what the world offers. 6 months after that I was in Japan. I didn’t think it was something I wanted to do for my whole life, but it was something I enjoyed,” he added.

Not satisfied with just Japan, Ede traveled to China where he would eventually meet Rosina, a Canadian who at the time was pursuing her studies abroad. “I was studying to be a teacher,” Rosina said. “Thelast term of my degree program, they were offering international studies and China was the only place that would pay for everything (laughs).”

“I met him in the hotel he was working at and we had a teacher night and the teachers had discounts and we were eating there thinking, “Oh my god, I can’t believe this is not in Canada because this is how Canadians love meat,” Rosina said. “We love barbeque.”

“She brought me here because she was missing home,” Ede added. “My contract finished at the hotel where I was working. I wanted to see what was happening in Canada.” Ede came to Canada with Rosina not actually intending to cook. He wanted to try his hand at something new and see what opportunities were available, much like when he first left for Japan. “My first job was at Tim Horton’s, when I was coming from a five star hotel it was just like culture shock,” Ede said.

After a bit of time, however, the itch to cook again came back, this time in the form of small catering jobs, not as a business to begin with. Just cooking for the enjoyment of it and to show family and friends what Brazilian cooking was all about. “Our family pushed us into it, basically (laughs),” Rosina said. “We worked all week and then we were basically cooking on the weekend for family and friends for fun,” Rosina said. “It’s something that gets in your blood.”

“Then friends of friends started asking and we thought, ‘Hang on, I think we could start a catering business here?” Ede added. “My first license was as a chef for hire, where you can cook and prepare in people’s houses. Bring everything and make it there. And that’s what we did.”

Launched officially in 2006, Ede and Rosina’s catering became so successful; they were able to save enough money to open their own restaurant in the fall of 2007. At the time rent was sky-high and the initial overhead was enormous, as most equipment couldn’t be found in Canada and had to be brought from Brazil, including the rotisseries and skewers.

Fortunately their old location was in an industrial area, which meant a lot of their initial customer base consisted of men who loved their barbecue. “It was busy right away but it took about a year to make money,” Ede said. “2008 was a very good year.”

Good enough that to book large tables or parties meant a wait-list of almost three months. Good business wasn’t a bad thing, however, as it allowed Ede and Rosina to expand and move to their current location on Macleod Trail, a location twice the size of the original.

“People in Calgary really relate to the cowboy culture so we want them to come here and see a different cowboy culture that’s very relatable to what they know,” Rosina said.

When people in Calgary think barbeque, they think of a gathering of people and good food and that’s exactly what Gaucho is about. “We’ve been around the world and there’s no other place where you can come in and in three years, open your own restaurant and open a second restaurant a year or two later,” Ede said. “There’s no other city like this city. The sky’s the limit pretty much.”

Gaucho is at 100, 5920 Macleod Tr. SW, brazilianbbq.ca, @GauchoBBQ

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