Sinhá chef Jorgina Pereira answers our questions

Michael Nagrant / 06.26.07

Jorgina Pereira, the chef behind Sinhá is often torn between her desire to retire under a palm tree and to conquer every challenge in her life path.  Orphaned as a child, she became a social worker in her native Brazil, and when it seemed impossible for a poor girl to attend college, she achieved a master’s degree in information systems.

Pereira grew up with the smells and tastes of her godmother’s culinary alchemy.  Living in America, she yearned for the tastes of her homeland and began experimenting, relying on her sense memory to guide her way.  Now, every Sunday afternoon, she opens up her home to the public for a Brazilian-style brunch featuring feijoada, the national dish of Brazil, an amalgamation of rice, black beans and rich, smoky pork.

As a former IT consultant, Pereira says she always had to stay one step ahead of her customers, anticipating their needs.  Now as a chef, she does the same thing.  She’s the Brazilian grandmother you never had, preparing rich family meals for the masses.

Q. What do you wish you could change/pickle about the Chicago restaurant scene?

A. I love the diversity of Chicago restaurants. One can easily be transported to a different world and experience the sublime delicacies from exotic cuisines.  I wish that many natural chefs out there could fulfill their culinary dreams to become entrepreneurs in this difficult and expensive industry.

Q. What would your last meal be?

A. Back in my boarding school days with the Order of Ursulines, I would fake sickness just to have a soup made by a nun who always took a pity on us.  The soup was made with chicken broth, corn meal, shredded collard greens and a good touch of olive oil.

Q. What Chicago chef would you be most willing to share a kitchen with?

A. I have been very curious about Penny, from Penny’s Noodle Shop, 3400 N. Sheffield.  Before she opened, I used to pass by the Lake View location and dream of a tiny, cozy restaurant under the L. Penny seems to be kind, natural and genuine.  I would like to share a stove and learn more about her cuisine and her experiences back in Vietnam.

Q. What’s Sinhá’s can’t-miss dish?

A. The moqueca de peixe com camarao, or fish shrimp stew.

Q. What should we know about Sinhá that we probably don’t?

A. If something appears difficult or impossible to realize, I dare to accomplish it.  Sinhá is the result of a personal challenge and a great desire to serve.

Sinhá Elegant Cuisine; 2018 W. Adams, Chicago (312) 491-8200