Rancho Três Paineirasa Brazilian BBQ outpost
Could a BBQ restaurant be more idealistic than Rancho Três Paneiras? Don’t think so! We visited this BBQ heaven where Chef Diego Belda overseas the fiery kitchen as well as the surrounding orchards and micro farm. Read on and discover the ins and outs of this gem tucked away in the Brazilian mountains on the outskirts of São Paulo.
Rancho Três Paineiras is found on the outskirts of the small village São Francisco Xavier. An idealistic place tucked away in the green mountains about 150 km from São Paulo and visited by many during the weekends for an escape from the hectic city life. It is exactly for this reason that chef and owner Diego Belda bought the outpost and converted it to a small BBQ restaurant. After having operated various restaurants in São Paulo, he wanted to switch from the fast pace of the city to a more relaxed surrounding where he could take time to produce the best ingredients and cook from the heart.
When Chef Diego bought the historic outpost, it was already surrounded by an orchard full of full-grown peach, guava, lemon, orange and lychee trees. He expanded from this and now uses the surrounding land to grow vegetables and raise a small selection of cattle including pigs, chickens and guinea fowl. The aim of Diego is to work solely with products grown and produced on his farm or obtained from producers in the immediate surroundings. All ingredients on your plates are therefore ultra-local and cooked on a fire fueled by wood from the surrounding orchard. To manage both the farm and the BBQ restaurant with a small crew they only allow reservations for lunch in the weekends and can seat no more than 20 guests per day. The lucky people able to get in are treated to a set multi course menu that varies each week and depends heavily on what was butchered, plucked or pulled out of the grounds that week. At the heart of the Rancho Três Paineiras kitchen you’ll find a simple assado setup. A small wood burner is nested in the corner and two elevated grills where glowing embers are shoveled under is all the chef needs to unlock the pure flavors from the freshly harvested ingredients. His cooking style reflects his no-nonsense personality and is both straight forward, rustic and damn delicious.
DIEGO BELDA, AN ACCIDENTAL CHEF
In his younger years Diego never had the idea of becoming a chef in mind. Instead, he was embarking on a career in fine arts. An internship to complete his study brought him to Europe where he started working in a restaurant to pay for his living costs. Somewhere between the pots and pans and a rambling ticket printer Diego had the epiphany to disembark his arts career and dive into the culinary world instead. He dropped out of college and followed various cooking classes in France and Spain. Before returning to Brazil, he traveled and worked in various countries, including The Netherlands, which provided him with a broad training and versatile culinary knowledge. Upon his return Diego ran various restaurants in São Paulo varying from fine dining to gourmet Burger joints. Currently his home base is Rancho Três Paineiras but the annual Churrascada BBQ festival (where I met Diego as a fellow chef cooking at my neighboring station) and his mobile Born to Grill BBQ catering concept brings him back to the big city occasionally.