By Wesley Reyna, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Brazilian steakhouse Fogo De Chao will bring the churrasco style of barbecuing to Denver when it opens Thursday.
Using a traditional cooking method based in a centuries-old culture, “Gaucho” chefs serve 15 different styles of slow-roasted succulent meats at the pace of the patron’s appetite.
In the mid 1970s, two brothers left their home in the mountainside of southern Brazil to train as traditional churrasqueiro chefs. In 1979 the first Fogo De Chao opened in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
After several successful expansions, the restaurant opened its first American location in Texas in 1997. Fogo De Chao has had Denver in its sights for the past 11 years, and after the long search they finally found the perfect location at 15th and Wynkoop.
The location is 14,000 square feet of beautiful dark woods, offset by large murals depicting the cultures and history of the southern Brazil Gaucho lifestyle.
Under the direction of General Manager Nelson Piccini, the staff operates with the motto of espito corrido, or continuous service. The passion for the churrasco way of cooking and the family atmosphere is present among the employees, many of whom are from Brazil.
Piccini himself is a perfect example of the passion and family atmosphere that Fogo De Chao embodies.
“ I feel like a part of the family,” Piccini said. “I’m very glad to work with Fogo. I had the opportunity to work my way up from a dishwasher.
“I love what I do, you know. I love working for Fogo. That’s why I’m still here, almost 20 years working with the company.”
All Fogo De Chao chefs are methodically trained in the churrasco style of grilling — a detailed process that takes a year of learning. Through this training chefs pass on the Gaucho tradition from one generation to another, just as it has been done for centuries.
Piccini explained why the chefs must be meticulously trained:
“The chef is the most important thing, because it doesn’t mater if you’ve got a very good filet mignon, a very good rib eye, and you don’t know how to render it, you don’t know how to skewer and how to cook,” Piccini said. “That won’t taste good. The secret is the chefs. The way we do it, the way we prepare it, and the way we marinate it, that is the secret.”
The succulent cuts of steak, lamb, pork and chicken are brought to the table at the guests’ pace. The customer can turn over a disk with either green or red sides, allowing the server to know exactly when to bring the guests another round of expertly prepared meats.
Fogo De Chao is likely to become a Denver staple. The open floor plan and style of service are perfect for both business meetings and great diner conversation. With their prix-fixe menu, guests can sample everything Fogo De Chao has to offer, or stick to their favorite cuts of meat.
For more information on the opening of Fogo De Chao, or to make a reservation, contact them via phone at 303-623-9600 or visit Web site at www.fogodechao.com.
Fogo De Chao
WHERE: 1513 Wynkoop St.
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters