In the Kitchen: Touro Churrascaria
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It's all about an authentic Brazilian experience. And meat, lots of meat.
Touro Churrascaria Brazilian Steakhouse and Wine Bar sits among the busy cluster of restaurants in the Hwy. 7 area of Richmond Hill.
Open for two years, the restaurant specializes in the “Rodizio” style of Brazilian cooking, where large cuts of meat are turned on skewers over open charcoal fires and then sliced tableside for the customer.
There is a touch of theatre about it and that's the whole point, explains Enzo Ferlisi, co-owner of the restaurant. “Everything is about the interaction with the customer.”
This style of cooking originates with the gauchos of southern Brazil, who were similar to the American cowboys. These travelling cattlemen would skewer their meat for easy carrying and then stick those skewers in the ground around their fires to cook, rotating them occasionally to make the meat tender and tasty.
Now that expertise has come to Touro, which decided to hire a team of experienced  gauchos from Brazil to do the grilling at the restaurant. Mateus da Silva, head gaucho and grill master at Touro, worked in some of the best steakhouses in Brazil before coming to Canada and has travelled the world introducing the style and technique of churrasco cooking to others.
“I watched my uncle cook in this way since I was 10, and soon started doing it myself,” explains da Silva, who started working in the kitchens of San Paulo at age 16.
What makes this style of cooking so flavourful is the combination of charcoal flame, technique and the cut of the meat. One quintessentially Brazilian cut is the picanha, taken from the rump of the animal. It is a huge favourite in the restaurant.
 “Every single cut of meat has its own flavour, so with the sirloin, the flank and the picanha, the only seasoning we use is rock salt,” da Silva explains. “We usually cook everything to medium rare and if people want it done a little more, it goes back on the grill and we come back round again.”
As a steady stream of freshly grilled meat is brought out from the kitchen, customers get a chance to try all the cuts on offer, which include lamb, pork and chicken. Some people try everything and others stick to a favourite. When they have had their fill, they get to finish off with some grilled pineapple, roasted for two hours with sugar and cinnamon.
While meat does take centre stage at Touro, there is also a full buffet that includes seafood and salads.
“Our buffet is a mixture of North American and Brazilian dishes,” says executive chef Michael Hernandez.
“We have one Brazilian bean dish that is cooked for two to three hours with black beans, smoked bacon and sausage.”
With a 240-seat capacity and a renovated patio area, customers can sip Caipirinha cocktails while they dine and enjoy the monthly Brazilian dancers.
While there might be other Brazilian restaurants in the GTA, Touro's Richmond Hill location allows it to attract customers from a wide radius as well as serving the immediate community.
Touro's decision to bring in real Gauchos from Brazil also makes it uniquely authentic, Hernandez says.
“We really want to bring the Brazilian experience to North America,” he says. “We have great food, people like it and we see a lot of people coming back.”

Touro Churrascaria
125 York Blvd., Richmond Hill
905-738-6876  |  tourosteakhouse.com

Touro's Chimichurri Sauce
This sauce is very simple to make and works well with many types of grilled meats.

Ingredients
56 g (2 oz) parsley
28 g (1 oz) cilantro
14 g (1/2 oz) basil
14 g (1/2 oz) mint
125 mL (1/2 cup) white balsamic vinegar
60 mL (1/4 cup) olive oil
4 mL (3/4 tsp) red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper to taste
7 mL (1-1/2 tsp) lemon juice
22 mL (4-1/2 tsp) garlic
1/4 white onion
60 mL (1/4 cup) water

Method
Put parsley, cilantro, basil and mint in a blender.
Add 30 mL (2 tbsp) water, red pepper flakes, garlic and onion and blend until finely chopped.
Once it reaches a finely chopped consistency, add white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice and more water if necessary. Blend briefly to mix. Season to taste.
Sauce can be stored in the fridge for about a week.

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