Yara Castro Roberts

Yara Castro Roberts, 2014 MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival

Yara Castro Roberts

Chef & Creative Director
Academy of Cooking & Other Pleasures - Brazil

Yara Castro Roberts is a native of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She began her culinary education as a young girl with her mother, Belita de Castro, a well-known chef who, for over thirty years, owned an important catering business and a cooking school in Brazil.

Yara runs a cooking school in Paraty, Brazil, called the Academy of Cooking & Other Pleasures. Its programs run the gamut from one evening dinner demonstrations to one week intensive courses covering the four regions of Brazil that have a truly distinctive cuisine: Minas Gerais, Bahia, Amazonas and the Cerrado. She conducts the classes in any of four languages: English, Portuguese, French and Spanish. Having lived and worked in four different countries on three continents over thirty years, she has an objective view of her own country and the experience to interpret it across cultural boundaries.

She is a graduate of the Boston University Culinary Art Program, and took classes in food History at Radcliff College and pastry at the Ritz-Escoffier Cooking School.

Yara has presented lectures, demonstrations and given cooking classes in several schools, and culinary organizations such as Culinary Institute of America, Boston University, Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, New York University, La Châine des Rôtisseurs, Les Dames d’Escoffier, the AIWF, the Rhode Island School of Design, IACP conferences, Old Ways Preservation & Exchange Trust, the International Food Festival of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and the Boston Harbor Hotel, Draeger’s Culinary Center in San Francisco and the Culinary School, at the Wegman’s Food Market, the Whole Foods Market in New York City and Central Market in Texas. She has collaborated with Old Ways Preservation & Exchange Trust creating the Latin American food pyramid and had collaborated with Slow Food movement on Brazilian cuisine.

She was the host for a PBS-WGBH cooking show series that focused on cuisines from around the world giving special attention to their culture and traditions. The quality of the series was twice honored by the broadcasting industry, nominating the series for their “Emmy” award. The segment she did for Canadian television featuring Minas Gerais cooking has been shown around the world on People & Arts, the Discovery channel and PBS. Yara is the host of a new TV series, currently in production, entitled “Delicious Brazil” that shows culture and lifestyles through food. The first season takes place in Brazil, where we experience and learn about exotic dishes through the eyes of guests from all over the world, attending the Academy of Cooking and other Pleasures in Paraty.

The PBS series entitled Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth about cooking schools around the world did a program with Yara and her cooking school in Paraty, the only cooking school featured in South America.

She is also the author of “The Brazilian Table,” the first book about Brazil’s cuisine written in English by an acclaimed Brazilian chef. Added to the book’s new and traditional regional recipes, she tells stories about Brazil’s culinary traditions and cooking and so gives an overview of the country’s history with insight that provides a fun way for the reader to go beyond common-place post-card views of this delightful country. Yara's particular combination of professional culinary training, multidisciplinary education and international life experience makes her uniquely qualified to write this book and make it authoritative, interesting, useful and fun. The book was one of three finalists for the Julia Child First Book Award and for the International Gourmand Award.

Yara Castro Roberts and her recipes have been featured in Yankee Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Boston Globe. Since opening her school in Brazil her international press coverage has continued to grow, with features in the American Express Departures magazine, Condé Nast Travel and Leisure, in London’s Independent, the Daily Telegraph Ultra Travel Magazine, National Geographic Travel, The Blue Travel from Portugal and L’art du Voyage in France. She has been featured in the major Brazilian newspapers such as Valor Econômico, o Estado de Sao Paulo, Folha de São Paulo, O Globo, o Estado de Minas, the magazines Bons Fluídos, Vogue, and on cable television. The New York Times said about her: “… she is a vivacious and seemingly inexhaustible ambassador for food and other things Brazilian. And she is an accomplished cook.”