ju paisI have been passionately busy with food my entire life. As the daughter of cooking wizard Dona Sessie - one of the most talented and creative gourmet minds that I have come across - I spent most of my childhood and teenage years in a yellow-tiled kitchen in the city of Belo Horizonte. From an early age, I followed closely in my mother’s footsteps. She was a pioneer in her field. In the 1960s, she was one of the first chefs to bring cooking classes to television. Her programs were shot in black and white, and I often got to lend a hand. My mother and I travelled all over Brazil, where she gave her cooking classes and motivated people to look at food from new perspectives.


I grew up surrounded by people who
valued and enjoyed food immensely.
My passion for food is kind of imprinted on my DNA.

Most, if not all, of my treasured memories from the time I still lived with my family revolve around food. Our excursions to food markets. Our pilgrimages to discover new flavours and delicacies. Not to mention the frenzy in our house when my mother would cater for big dinner parties and receptions. At home, we didn’t speak Portuguese, we spoke “food”! To this day, I can still smell our glorious Sunday lunches, where everything was fresh and prepared from scratch in the early hours of the morning. The menu, which varied every week, was always divinely simple.  All of it mixed with laughter, singing, and talking about whichever book our entire family was reading at the same time. Nothing could have been more nourishing! Food was the vehicle that made the meaningful and deep connections between us not only possible but also a palpable reality.

This is why food means so much more to me than simply a biological and nutritional package intended to keep us alive.  Eating is an act of love that translates as nourishment, pleasure, and contentment for the body and for the soul. It is also about our interaction with the world we live in, with ourselves and with those with whom we share our meals.

I am a strong believer that our relationship with
food reflects well our relationship with life.


As a very young fledgling foodie, I was already busy exploring and creating new meanings for the words food, hunger, pleasure, and nourishment, and figuring out that we feed ourselves with much more than just food. I realized that our nutritional reality goes far beyond the material nutrients that are fed into our bodies.

The way we eat, what we eat, and how we feel and think impact not only our physical
body but also the entirety of our being and  
play a vital role both in the satiation of our hunger
and in determining our appetite for food and for life.

Personally, I am a life adventurer, a globetrotter, a lover of food markets, a nature freak, a neuroscience junkie, a salsa dancer, and the personification of the beautiful words of Camus:  I “live to the point of tears”. I am passionate about food prepared with love, the written word, and the sound of a piano being played. I’m a terrier by nature and a wabi-sabi follower by choice.  And definitely a person of “awe” and "wows". 

Professional Experience


Photography of Ju Pais by Walter van Overbeek |© Food photography by Zaira Zarotti, the Freaky Table | Webdesign by Bungewerk, Arnhem