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My name is Cynthia Presser (pronounced Seen-Cha), and I'm passionate about cooking. My birth name is Ana Cynthia Ferreira and I grew up in the tropical surroundings of Brazil.

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I spent most of my life in the Southern part of Brazil, in a region that is near Argentina and Paraguay. My dad used to be in the cattle raising business, and our family often traveled to different ranches - which gave me the opportunity to explore other fascinating parts of Brazil. It's a very large country (bigger than the US in continuous land). My birth place is diverse, multicultural, and vibrant. It is a land of simple but exotic people. Brazilians are energetic and passionate.

The food I grew up eating is a mix of all those elements – and it is delicious!

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I have always loved to eat! From an early age, I was fascinated by food photography. As early as 13 or 14 years old, I began clipping recipes from magazines and organizing them into a journal. If there would be a recipe that looked delicious in one of mom's or aunt's cookbooks, I would copy it into my journal. At that point, it was all about how the recipe looked like on paper.

I was about 16 years old when I first attempted to cook some of those recipes I was collecting. At first, I wasn’t very good, but it did not take long before I started serving some very tasty meals! The more successes I had in the kitchen, the more I wanted to experiment. Soon, I was developing my own recipes! At the age of 20, my friends started asking me to help out with dinner parties for their birthdays, graduations, engagements, etc. That’s when I realized that cooking was a passion! Unfortunately (or not), my realization came after I was already going to an advertising school, and switching gears professionally was not going to be well received by my family – especially trading the marketing and advertising for… cooking!

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After college, I packed my bags and, at 24 years-old, I decided to explore the world. In the year of 2000 I landed in San Diego, California, with $1,200 in my pocket, a suitcase of belongings, and my recipe journal.

In San Diego, I enrolled in school to improve my English, and worked in all kinds of small jobs to support myself: nanny, waitress, and coffee shop barista to name a few. I made so many friends that I decided to extend my stay and start fashion school. A couple years later, I started my career in fashion retail which I found to be very fun. I was happy, but not fulfilled professionally. I was always cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, but at that point I did not have the courage to just go for it.

In 2006, I met the man who would change my life forever. In 2008, Steve proposed to me in a beautiful winery in Temecula, California. In 2009, I became his wife in the unforgettable location - Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Shortly after our wedding, we found out that I was pregnant. It was a great surprise, but it also made us realize that we lived in San Diego without any family members around. All my family was in Brazil, and all his family was in Indiana. So, we decided to give it a shot in Indiana - my suggestion! At the time, my husband had the ability to work from anywhere, but I did not. I quit my career in fashion retail, and for a little while I just focused on raising our baby boy, Sebastian.

Being at home made me enjoy cooking more than ever! Also, I was now living in a place with very little presence of my culture which made me crave the food from Brazil even more. I realized that the time to persue a culinary related career had finally come!

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In 2011, my passion for my culture and my background in cooking pushed me to start my website “Cynthia Presser – Cooking with a Twist”. The website quickly grew to thousands of visitors per month. That same year, I started a cultural event called “A Taste of Brazil” in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which was a very fun evening celebrating Brazilian music, dance, and food.

At the end of 2011, I started writing my first cookbook Cooking with a Brazilian Twist. The book is a compilation of 100 of my best recipes. It was published in 2013. Very well received, Cooking with a Brazilian Twist is a large, high-quality hardcover coffee table book. The recipes are approachable, full of flavors, and they provide readers with a true Brazilian cooking experience. The book also contains additional recipes from around the world as well as fusion cuisine. In 2019, Cooking with a Brazilian Twist was ranked among the top five Brazilian cookbooks. 

In 2012,  I was chosen to participate in the first season of the ABC's reality cooking show The Taste, which featured Anthony Bourdain and Nigela Lawson. It was a great, fun experience that gave me the chance to promote Brazilian cuisine for an even larger audiance - and I also made some great friends on set. 

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The website and events kept growing, and so did our family. In 2013, I gave birth to our second baby boy, William.

In 2015, our family moved to much warmer weather in Tampa, Florida. A place that made us feel completely at home from the start. 

In the next years that followed, I kept working on developing recipes, promoting the Brazilian culture and raising our family. I also had the opportunity to showcase some of my recipes at the NBC's Today Show. I was thrilled to have been invited to take part at several of the show's segments, which always highlighted the food from my background.  

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My philosophy is that cooking has to be creative, spontaneous and fun. Cooking is a lifestyle.

Through my website, events, and cookbook, I try to share the joy of cooking, eating, and being a proud Brazilian native living the American dream.

To the American people, who have been nothing but gracious to me, I offer in return the best part of myself: my cooking.

Com Amor,

Cynthia

(Cynthia Presser is a cookbook author, food blogger and private event's chef. She resides in South Tampa, Florida, with her husband Steve, and sons Sebastian (born 2009), and William (born 2013). Besides spreading her love through cooking, Cynthia enjoys art, languages, traveling the world, practicing yoga, sipping on good wine, and long days at the beach with her family).

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