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This week on Let’s Go, South Florida host Arlene Borenstein visits Cochic.
Watch Let’s Go, South Florida: For Hispanic Heritage Month, we are celebrating South Florida’s diverse landscape of Latin American cuisine. Over the next few weeks, we’ll visit the kitchens and learn the stories of local restaurant owners from El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Mexico. This week, we dip into South America and visit Cochic in Deerfield Beach to sample festive street food at the heart of Brazilian tradition.
Rafael da Silva left his home in Sao Paulo, Brazil, as a high school exchange student in the mid-’90s to live with an American family in Conway, Ark. His goal was to learn English and, maybe, if he was good enough, earn a swimming scholarship to get into college.
He scored the scholarship, graduated and then moved to Florida, where he met a girl from Rio de Janeiro living in Boca Raton.
“She used to cater parties for party planners. Her mom is a great cook. So is her grandmother,” da Silva said about his wife, Mariana Valentim.
They began working together at events where their bite-sized versions of coxinhas — a Brazilian street food of fried breaded dough stuffed with a filling — were popular, easy to eat and so successful they opened a restaurant in 2018 named Cochic. The Deerfield Beach eatery showcases the chicken thigh shaped morsel with a storied history.
“Kings and queens of Portugal would visit Brazil like it was their vacation. One of the queen’s grandchildren didn’t like to eat much so one of the cooks took the bone off the chicken and breaded it, and that’s how the coxinhas started,” said da Silva, who also co-owns catering company Cochic Events.
The traditional option is usually served with chicken and sometimes with catupiry cheese, which is similar to cream cheese. However, Cochic amps up the options to include kielbasa, corn and cream cheese, ham and cheese, spinach and cheese, Nutella and dulce de leche stuffed coxinhas.
Paula DaSilva, the Brazilian-born executive chef of the Ritz Carlton in Fort Lauderdale (no relation to the da Silvas), knows coxinhas well. She joined us at Cochic to share her culinary climb from making batches and batches of the street food at her parents’ restaurants to later competing on Hell’s Kitchen (season 5), taking a second place win. You can hear her full interview on Let’s Go, South Florida.
Also on Cochic’s menu are Brazilian-inspired dishes with an American touch. Their pichana acebolada — a Brazilian dish made with top sirloin steak and sauteed onions — can come with loaded fries covered in cheese and bacon as a side. And with every burger, a coxinha secured with a toothpick sits on top of the bun.