Picanha. Medium-rare. With Chimichurri and a Side of…Mealworms?

Adi Sircar
3 min readAug 21, 2021


I used to be a chef at the second-best restaurant in the Town of Blacksburg. I embraced Southern Brazilian cowboy culture and built gorgeous plates of the finest dry-aged picanha, juicy sobrecoxa (chicken thighs), and coração skewers (chicken hearts). We were pricey, so most of our guests were either professors — the ones who require students to purchase the textbooks that they themselves author, or businessmen — who spend hundreds of dollars on caipirinhas after they win a sought after government contract.

Chef Adi (left) and Chef Lorenzo (right) at the best restaurant in Blacksburg — The Sircar Bar

I joined the family shortly after the new year began, and met with the owners to chat about my vision. I got to tour the restaurant and learn about Gaucho traditions. Many things stood out: a giant wood-fired Parrilla grille, stunning artifacts from Rio Grande do Sul, countless awards & framed news articles, 10 state of the art air purifiers, and the cleanest kitchen I have ever set eyes on. The floor was so pure, I could not only eat food from it, I could deliver a baby, or perform open-heart surgery. It was a colossal change — like escaping Darfur and arriving in Denmark — from the last restaurant I worked at, where a blanket of cigarettes kept the parking lot warm during the snowy winter; where fallen onion rings were kicked underneath the fryer, banished from the observable universe; and where the aromatics of mayonnaise and mustard and pickle juice would infuse into my hair and skin, much to the dismay of my mistress. I was delighted to join the Gaucho gang.

One day, I had an inspiring conversation with my Uncle, and soon received a package of edible insects in the mail. As much as I wanted to rip the bags open and devour the arthropods and annelids all by myself, I decided to share them with my friends.

I brought mealworms to the restaurant for the chefs and servers to try. The next day I brought in crickets. The day after that I brought mealworms again but this time, they were coconut flavored. Everyone was open-minded and intrigued by the bugs. There we were, in a restaurant that serves the finest meat in town, with the cleanest kitchen in the country: happily munching on chile-lime crickets with pumpkin seeds (not an affiliate link). And so I kept bringing bugs to the best restaurant in Blacksburg — sorry, second-best.

Now, these snacks were just something to allocate stomach real estate before we indulged in a savory, heartwarming feijoada (pork + beans stew) for dinner, but the insect industry is much more than an hors d’oeuvre — it just might save the world.

A huge problem with steaks is sustainability. I realize I just used a vacuous buzz word, so let me simplify: cow farts are killing our planet. The methane released from each cow every year weighs over 400 pounds! Think about that the next time you sink your teeth into a perfectly-marbled, tender, juicy picanha at your favorite churrascaria. Insect farms are more efficient and safer for the environment. They use less water, release less greenhouse gases, and use less energy than cattle, chicken, and almond farms.

The edible insect market cap is growing rapidly and money is flying everywhere. Bug business is booming and may soon creep into familiar territory. You may find it on your windshield, you may taste it in your protein powder, you may see it on your plate — you cannot hide or escape it, nor delude yourself from the fact that the future of food is not feathery and furry, but creepy and crawly.

Wow you made it to the finish line! I wanted to share my experience with bug cuisine after reading about a mealworm farming startup that raised $10M from VCs. What do you think? Would you ever eat an insect? Will we witness the fall of steakhouses and the rise of bughouses? Can eating bugs really save the world? And most importantly, what’s the best restaurant in Blacksburg? I’ve heard that The Sircar Bar is a rather classy establishment, and they have a new website too! My official guide to Chinese buffets is coming up next so keep an eye out for that!