- Written by Cynthia Presser
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.
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 business, and our family often traveled to different ranches giving me the opportunity to explore other fascinating parts of Brazil. It's a HUGE country (bigger than the US in continuous land) that is diverse, multicultural, and vibrant. It is a land of simple but exotic people, who have tons of energy. The food I grew up eating is a melange of all those elements – and it is delicious!
I have ALWAYS loved to eat!! From an early age I was fascinated by food photography. As early as 13 or 14, I began clipping recipes from magazines. and organizing them into a journal. If a recipe was in a cookbook that belonged to my mom or my aunt, I would copy it into my journal. 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 at all, but it did not take long before I started serving some very tasty meals! The more success 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, and engagement. That’s when I realized that cooking was a passion! Unfortunately (or not), my realization came after I was already going to an advertising university, and switching gears professionally was not going to be well received by my family – especially trading the marketing and advertising for… cooking!!!
After college, I packed my bags at 24 and decided to explore the world. In 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 I did not have the courage to just go for it… at least not yet.
In 2006, I met this AMAZING man named Steve Presser. In 2008, he 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 I was pregnant! It was a great surprise, but we also realized that we lived in San Diego without any family members around. All my family was in Brazil, and all his family was in Indiana. We decided to give it a shot in Indiana- my suggestion! My husband has 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! However, I was now living in a place with very little presence of my culture which made me crave the food from my background. Ok… so I guess it was finally the right time to go after my dreams!!
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 20,000 visitors per month. That same year, I started a cultural event called “A Taste of Brazil” in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is a very fun evening of Brazilian music, dance, and my Brazilian 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.
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 give back the best part of myself.
(Cynthia Presser is a cookbook author, food blogger and Chef. She resides in South Tampa, Florida, with her husband Steve, and sons Sebastian (born 2009), and William (born 2013). When not cooking or working on her website, Cynthia enjoys art, languages, traveling the world, practicing yoga, running, good wine, and long summer days with her family).