In 2003, Le Petit Zinc's owner Karima Sorel moved to the Brazilian coastal state of Bahia with her husband. It was there that she began to delve into the culture and history of the state including its rich cooking traditions. This Friday, Sorel in collaboration with Dine Drink Detroit's Scott Rutterbush, will bring those flavors to Detroit in the form of a 5-course tasting menu at Revolver. Eater met with Sorel to discuss her upcoming pop-up, Brazilian cuisine, and her views on the expanding restaurant community in Corktown.
What made you decide to bring a Brazilian pop-up to Detroit?
We've been thinking about doing other projects here and we thought it would be a good idea to try it out at Revolver and see how that goes.
What do you find surprising about Brazilian cuisine?
I think the flavors are really unique . . . All of the recipes are so traditional. One thing about Bahia is it's known for its traditions. The rhythms, the music, the cuisine, the religion have all been really tightly guarded in oral history and throughout the generations in Africa. So, this particular recipe has been passed down and protected from any sort of influence from the outside. I'm really passionate about that. I think that one of the most interesting parts of Bahia is that tradition.
At Le Petit Zinc your focus is French cuisine. How do the Brazilian and French cooking traditions compare?
They're extremely different. The French cuisine is really based around simplicity; clean and simple ingredients. Whereas this particular Brazilian cuisine is very complicated. It has so many steps. There's a lot of preparation. A lot of deeper flavors. The French cuisine is a lot more subtle flavor and this food is very heavy and layered.
How did you learn the recipes you're presenting on Friday?
Cooking is communal [in Bahia]. There's always lots of people in the kitchen and lots of people coming together to cook and that's really how my exposure to the food happened. Just living there in Brazil and being invited and seeing at the start of the day they set off fireworks for the saints and then you're welcomed in and everyone starts cooking. It's such an integral part of life. Just being there you learn and you're exposed.
The Corktown neighborhood has really exploded in terms of new restaurant options. Do you find that this benefits Le Petit Zinc?
Absolutely, from the start. Phil Cooley, this entire neighborhood, this community is very supportive.
What attracted you to the Corktown neighborhood after returning from Bahia?
My family had this building, so opening Zinc was a decision we made really out of love and commitment to my family and the larger community.
If you can't catch the Bahia pop-up on Friday, consider checking out Le Petit Zinc's new brunch crepe collaboration with Thomas Magee's Sporting House every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.