Des Cuisine

Brazilian Baked Treats

At the market: Every Sunday in the Carpark area

Contact: Andre Valobra

Call/text: 021 0282 3901 


Instagram:  @descuisine

Andre's Story

Andre Valobra greets market customers with his broad smile and his delicious Brazilian treats.

Where did you grow up?

In a small coastal town about four hours drive from San Paolo.  Our small community has relied on fishing for generations. I have strong memories of gathering shellfish with my family and being encouraged to try everything.  

How has your family influenced your love of food?

I have always been inspired by my mother – she’s a wonderful cook. I also grew up hearing stories of my grandfather who was an Italian engineer but worked as a chef when he came to Brazil. Dad has vivid memories of him cooking with exotic ingredients and making cheese. Granddad was a pioneer, opening a pizzeria, an ice cream shop, and Italian restaurants.

You trained as a chef in San Paolo?

Yes - I went to a cookery university in San Paolo and extended that with a masters degree in hospitality management. I missed being close to the ocean but the markets there were amazing and inspiring. Our tutors urged us to visit the markets and try lots of different foods and flavours to improve our palates and food culture.

After you graduated?

I worked at a private cookery school for seven years, starting with assisting famous chefs from around Brazil to prepare for their classes. Then I progressed to helping with private functions administration and looking after cookery assistants. I am so grateful for the valuable experience that I gained there.

It’s a big leap from San Paolo to Auckland, how did that happen?

The cookery school started welcoming international students but I couldn’t speak English well so I was limited in how I could get involved in that part of the business. I came to New Zealand to learn English.

How did that go?

Seven years later, I’m still here and Auckland is home to me.  This is a place I could learn English, find challenges in the kitchen, and recapture my passion for cooking. My first job here was in a small café where I learnt local words like “cornies” and “muffins”. It was a great place to learn English and the Kiwi style of food.  Then I moved into some bigger places including Non-Solo Pizza, Hello Friends + Allies, and Winona Forever. I was lucky to work with, and be trained by, some great chefs that gave me the experience needed to become a head chef and get involved in setting up new stores.

Why start your own business?

During Covid, a lot of Brazilian friends asked for traditional Brazilian foods, particularly cheese balls. They are a very popular treat at home and can be found in every Brazilian bakery. It got me thinking about making other Brazilian and South American specialties that didn’t really fit with the places I worked.

What led you to the market?

Markets are an excellent place for me to connect with customers and hear their feedback. That can’t really happen in the formal setting of a restaurant. It's wonderful to have lots of repeat customers at Grey Lynn. They take their treats home and return the following Sunday to get more and tell me about their eating experiences. Sweet treats are very popular and I’m loving being part of the community.

How do you spend your time off?

Exploring the fabulous eateries in Auckland’s neighbourhoods – there are some great eateries in unexpected suburbs. I’ve also done a lot of road trips around New Zealand, usually focusing on new eating experiences.

Any other big plans?

I’m looking forward to my parents coming to New Zealand next year. They haven’t been here yet and I want them to see why I have chosen this as my new home. I’m looking forward to showing off to my mum how I’m using her recipes in my new venture.


As published in Ponsonby News : August 2023