By Jamie Vollmer
Choosing an international cuisine is an easy way to spice up an event. In the last two years, Missouri has become home to several Brazilian restaurants. Before we examine two specific establishments, let’s get familiar with some of the dining terms common to Brazil:
A style of service in Brazilian and Portuguese restaurants where guests pay a fixed price for waiters to bring them food several times throughout the meal, until diners signify that they have had enough.
A South American rotisserie cooking style originating from fireside roasts by gauchos in southern Brazil.
A Brazilian or Portuguese steakhouse specializing in churrasco.
Waiters specializing in meat who come to diners’ tables offering freshly-cooked slices of meat from skewers.
Now that we know the lingo, let’s look at a few event options.
In the St. Louis area, those seeking a rodizio-style churrascaria will enjoy Bacana Brasil. Bacana offers 15 different fresh-grilled churrasco delights, such as shrimp, top sirloin, flank steak with cheese, garlic steak, banana, and chicken. As with any rodizio-style restaurant, diners are given a sign to notify passadors when they want and do not want more. Until a guest signals that they do not want meat, passadors will continue to serve every option as it comes fresh from the fire.
In addition to the parade of meats, diners can help themselves to the salad bar and hot line throughout the meal. Both feature a mix of familiar American dishes and traditional Brazilian recipes.
Providing a truly authentic experience, most of the management and staff come from South America. In fact, the chef emigrated from Brazil to cook at Bacana. A few months later, his wife joined him. Now she creates the delectable and authentic desserts Bacana patrons enjoy.
Bacana offers three options for event and meeting planners. For smaller parties of up to 16 people, Bacana has a private dining room. This simple space is decorated with deep blue walls and authentic Brazilian art from the coastal town of Natal. It is an excellent choice for business meetings, sales presentations and small social gatherings.
For larger gatherings of up to 55 people, Bacana offers a semi-private space in its Fireplace Room. This room is located in an elevated position off the main dining room and as the name implies, it features a large, stone fireplace.
Shirley Ann Rizi, director of marketing for accounting firm Milhouse & Neal LLC, recently coordinated a company party in the Fireplace Room. “We wanted to try something new, and we thought that Bacana would provide us a different type of dining experience. Everyone loved the experience. There were many compliments made about how wonderful it was to experience an abundance of delicious meats that seemed to be never-ending.”
The final event option at Bacana is the entire restaurant. Bacana offers this for parties of up to 200 people. Last December Maurie Smith, president and COO of IT consulting firm SyllogisTeks, hosted the company’s holiday party at Bacana. The group of 150 rented the entire restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“They exceeded our expectations – primarily through excellent management,” comments Smith. “The staff was very helpful, courteous and friendly.”
Victor Pacheco, manager of Bacana Brasil, personally works with every event coming through the restaurant’s doors. A Brazilian native, Pacheco is passionate about the food and service the restaurant offers. The typical Bacana event will provide the restaurant’s full selection of meats and side dishes. Guests will have unlimited access to all items.
Pacheco is also adamant about working with clients to create the best event: “Even if they have a budget, we can decide on a few cuts of meat and quantities, and we will make it work.”
St. Louis isn’t the only Missouri town to enjoy churrasco. In November 2006, Springfield became home to the Rodizio Brazilian Grill. Rodizio is the second offering from this Argentinian family that immigrated to the U.S. six years ago. Like Bacana, Rodizio prepares a wide range of churrasco options, including specialties such as Asian-glazed rib-eye, parmesan-encrusted sirloin, sea bass and Brazilian meatloaf.
Rodizio offers three spaces for private events and meetings. The first space is a small private room that seats up to 25. While the room is private, the space does share the hot and cold food line with the main dining room. For mid-size parties, Rodizio offers a private space on its mezzanine level, which seats 70. This room has its own bar and hot and cold food lines. It is a wonderful location for corporate events, retirement parties and wedding rehearsal dinners. For the right event, Rodizio will also shut down the entire restaurant.
Events at Rodizio feature a three-course meal and include dessert in its flat-rate price. Courses include a parade of meats, salad bar and the hot/cold food line. The food line features selections ranging from sushi to traditional Brazilian recipes. Rodizio also takes its food on the road, catering off-site events across the Springfield area.
Bacana Brasil and the Rodizio Brazilian Grill are providing exciting new opportunities for meetings and events. While experience demonstrates how positive the response is to rodizio-styled churrascarias, take the opportunity to try it for yourself. After one visit, you will likely be raising your fork to salute this exciting Brazilian tradition. MM&E
(Jamie Vollmer is a contributor from St. Louis, Mo.)
16123 Chesterfield Parkway West
Chesterfield, MO 63017
Phone: (636) 532-6969
Rodizio Brazilian Grill
3371 E. Montclair Street
Springfield, MO 65804
Phone: (417) 881-8882