Andre Moraes

Jo McGarry photo

Owner, Tropical Tribe
1637 Kapiolani Blvd.

Where were you born and raised? San Paolo, Brazil. I came to Hawaii to study English, and I was headed to the London School of Economics to get my master's. But business and food are my interests, and there is incredible opportunity for both in Hawaii.

Were you born in to a food-centric family? My parents ar not quite as crazy about food as I am (laughs), but Brazil is an incredible place to grow up when it comes to food. It's a country of immigrants, and we have a really mixed population with dishes from all over the world.

The acai berry is known to be a powerful fruit. Does it travel well?

Actually, it loses its flavor and its potency within hours of being picked. The best farmers need to have a really fast transportation system so they can process the berries right away and save the nutrients. That's why the quality berries are more expensive.

And they taste amazing. The fruit has the consistency of chocolate. That's because we have a lot more of the acai berry itself in the bowl, and also because it's mixed with guarana juice. There's no ice added at all, so you're just eating berry and the juice. It's not common in Brazil to add ice to everything. We like a rich taste, and ice just waters everything down.

But there's a complexity to the bowls. You almost feel better as you eat!

(Laughs) You know, the recipe we use is really old. The tropical tribes in the Amazon were the first people to mix the berry and the juice - even without science and technology, they were the ones to find out that these two berries go well together and have great health benefits.

What do you like to eat when you go out? To be honest, I don't have a favorite kind. I love food so much that I love to try all different places. Sushi is good, and I love pasta.

What's always in your refrigerator? I always have eggs - and onions. Onions are the base of so many Brazilian dishes.

If we could import a restaurant from Brazil to Hawaii, what would it be?

A very good churrascaria. In Brazil, the churrascaria is very versatile restaurant - with good wines, really good meat, and they also have good cheese. I don't think there has been an example of this yet in Hawaii.