Fogo de Chão’s general manager is keeping it real
By Kiko Miyasato
The Fogo de Chão restaurant chain and Marcio Bonfada go way back—17 years to be exact, and to southern Brazil. Bonfada joined the Fogo family when he was just a teen and moved from his family’s farm to work in the kitchen preparing desserts at Fogo. He worked his way through the restaurant’s various positions—busser, salad bar station, server, meat server, chef—and finally moved to the United States in 2000, working at Fogo de Chão outposts in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.
In 2011, he helped open the Vegas location where today he is general manager. And since Bonfada has held every position at Fogo, you’ll see him not only managing the floor but also filling in behind the bar mixing drinks, serving up the different meats—he steps in whenever and wherever needed. “Anytime that you come to Fogo, you’ll see me working … I’m proud of everything I do here.”
“I stop by every single table during lunch, during dinner. I’m here when we open the doors and here till the last table is served,” he said. Your experience at the authentic southern Brazilian-style steakhouse, a centuries-old concept, is filled with great food, lots of it and as much as you want: a 40-item salad bar prepared fresh daily and 15 cuts of meat that include beef, lamb, chicken, pork and sausage. “We bring around not just great food and great service but we bring our culture to people; everything that is in this restaurant is related to south Brazil,” Bonfada said. “We’re the real deal, no question about it.”
Fogo de Chão’s most popular signature drink is the caipirinha. “It’s the Brazilian national drink; anywhere you go you’ll see people drinking it all year round,” Bonfada said. If you want the complete Brazilian experience at Fogo, this cocktail is a must-have. The simple yet powerful drink is made with muddled lime and sugar, cachaça (a spirit similar to rum) and served over ice. “Three of these and you’ll be speaking Portuguese!” he warned.