Janete's Midnight Cabyard Kitchen The revelation that Brazilian cab drivers in San Francisco were getting a taste of home at an off-the-radar restaurant sparked the interest of radio producers The Kitchen Sisters. Soon, they were making midnight runs to Janete's Cabyard Kitchen.

Janete's Midnight Cabyard Kitchen

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Unidentified Speaker: (Unintelligible) drivers, anybody for Market and (unintelligible) Streets, please, Jackson and Franklin --


This morning we have another of our Hidden Kitchens chronicles which tracks secret cooking across America. Well, not exactly secret, but certainly out of sight, until the Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, find them.

(Soundbite of radio)

INSKEEP: In San Francisco the Kitchen Sisters noticed that every time they took a Yellow cab, the driver was from Brazil.

Unidentified Speaker: (Unintelligible) take a cabs or what?

INSKEEP: Not just from Brazil, but from the same town in Brazil--Goiania. Cab ride conversations inevitably turned to music and food.

Unidentified Speaker: Janete, right? Yellow cab? She does a couple of things also, snacks...

INSKEEP: That's when the story of Janete emerged--a woman from the cabbies' hometown who came each evening after dark to the abandoned industrial street outside the cab company and set up a make-shift, rolling night kitchen. The Kitchen Sisters went in search of Janete and have been following the saga of her cab yard kitchen over the past two years.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SERGIO PEDROSO (Taxicab Driver, Yellow Cab, San Francisco): After midnight, that's when the big crowds come over--taxi drivers, nightclub people, (unintelligible) buyers, this is a spot for everyone--Janete's tent, the blue tent (laughs). We are in front of the garage of the Yellow Cab, San Francisco, close by the sidewalk in the middle of nowhere. My name is Sergio Pedroso. I drive the Yellow cab. She comes here and cook for us.

Ms. MARIA JANETE de MORAES (Cabyard Kitchen Cook): (Through Translator) My name is Janete de Moraes. I make (unintelligible). Is my business. (Foreign language spoken) yellow cabbie. Shish-ko-bob and rice and beans, chicken, this is (unintelligible).

Mr. PEDRO MILHOMEN (Husband of Janete): I am Pedro Milhomen, Janete's husband. I was born in Goiania but I work as a taxi driver daytime. You know, I mean, I help her out a little bit but this is her business.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. DE MORAES (Foreign language spoken):(Through Translator) When I start working at the Yellow cab yard, everything was really dirty around there. I needed to make the whole area clean. It was full of homeless people and the police was always coming to me and saying be careful, this is a dangerous area. But they looked out for me and other people started looking out for me. And you're not allowed to serve food there but I set up that spot--people felt it was a safe place to be and a safe place to eat.

Mr. MARCOS COELHO (Taxicab Driver, Yellow Cab, San Francisco): Her kitchen, on the beginning started in her car, just little things, and then comes rice and beans and the (unintelligible). My name is Marco Coelho. I'm from Goiania. Now is the truck is coming. We're not gonna have this place anymore. We're gonna a big truck and she gonna park here and put some tables outside and the Brazilian music.

Unidentified Speaker: The tent's not accepted by the Health Department so we have to do away with this tent and get a kitchen truck--legal. You have to legalize it. It's $80,000 which is a big investment for us.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Speaker: In the beginning when she came was the drivers, the cabbies --

Mr. MARCELLO RIBEIRO (Taxicab Driver, Yellow Cab, San Francisco): On the Yellow cab, they like the Brazilian drivers. There's about 386 Brazilian driving a cab. My name is Marcello Ribeiro. When you grow up in Brazil, the thing we love to do is the car racing, and motorcycle racing--and lot of business here like North Beach Pizza, Mr. Pizza Man--all the drivers, they are from Goiania. Janete's the place where we take a break when we are hungry. Then the good word started to spread out and now the whole neighborhood comes here.

Ms. DE MORAES (Foreign language spoken):(Through Translator) Sometimes the people that deliver papers use that street and musicians stop by to eat. They started to play, too, and I put out chairs in the street.

(Soundbite of crowd at game)

Ms. DE MORAES (Foreign language spoken):(Through Translator) Then there was the World Cup and we put out the T.V. set and you know how Brazilians are. We had 500 people there to watch all the games. We were there until 5:30, 6:00 in the morning. It was crazy.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. ERAJ FRATENOU(PH): Last night it was raining so hard. It was pouring and it was so windy and everything was shaking around here but she stayed. Her friend and her husband, they hold the tent and after everybody goes home, then she goes home. My name is Eraj Fratenou and I was born in Persia, Iran. I'm a cab driver. I'm driving. I came here to have dinners. Everything is good she cooks. Persian food is rice and kebab, just like this. I didn't know anything about the Brazilian food before (laughs).

Mr. RIBEIRO: It's very hard to how the races get together like when you go to the airport, we have three parking lots for cabs there and you see cab drivers from all over the world separate in groups--India, Russia, China, Brazil, Italy--they don't get together. Janete is here for so many years and she knows little things about every one of us. She is like our mother. Even when we don't have money, we can eat and pay another day.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. DE MORAES (Foreign language spoken):(Through Translator) Someone was following me. I had a lot of cash. I was robbed at my apartment. I think that robbery affected me a lot. I think it does affect me to this day. I hear a little noise in the house, I'm always afraid, but I just gave what I have and I came out with my life.

Unidentified speaker: The life is more important than money.

Ms. DE MORAES (Foreign language spoken):(Through Translator) I don't want to work in the streets any more. It's very hard. The truck--I use that truck for 5, 6 months. I decided that it was better if I returned it. It was not something that we would be using any longer.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Speaker: And now she's driving.

Ms. DE MORAES (Foreign language spoken):(Through Translator) Now I'm a driver and I also work inside Kragen Auto parts. I still want to work with food. I want to have my own restaurant. I want to go to culinary school. My blue tent kitchen--I really miss it sometimes. That was a good time. I think I lived for those cabdrivers. The street is a place that everyone goes. It's just a freer place to be.

INSKEEP: Hidden Kitchens is produced by The Kitchen Sisters and Jay Allison. Mixed by Jim McKee. To find out more about Janete's cooking and the new Hidden Kitchens book, visit NPR.org.

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