A hit-making Brazilian music producer on where to eat, being ready for side trips and more.
São Paulo-born, New York-based music, film and TV producer Béco Dranoff is constantly going back and forth between Brazil and the U.S. Based in New York for 25 years, he is co-founder of Ziriguiboom Discos, the label that launched the international careers of Bebel Gilberto, Celso Fonseca, Bossacucanova and other Brazilian musicians. He is also a producer of the documentary and TV series Beyond Ipanema: Brazilian Waves in Global Music, and host of Sonoridade, a monthly modern Brazilian music radio show.
What do you always bring with you when you travel?
I always bring a foldable nylon bag with me. This allows me to use a smaller bag for those weekend occasions or day trips. You can leave the larger suitcase behind and take just what you need. I also always pack a bathing suit, even if going to locations in winter. You never know when a nice beach or pool will materialize...
What's a favorite hotel or two you can recommend, and why do you like it?
I love Rio's Copacabana Palace. I stayed there with my family as kid and it had a big impact on me. It was my first time in Rio and the first time staying in such a cool and classic place.
Is there an airport that you find particularly efficient and pleasant? And one that's disagreeable?
I live in the west side of Manhattan [in New York City], so I like flying out of the Newark Airport [in New Jersey]. It's large, sunny, calm, friendly and painless, unlike JFK [John F. Kennedy International Airport]. I also love landing in Rio's small Santos Dumont airport. You fly over Rio's amazing landmarks - Sugar Loaf, Corcovado, the beaches - land right downtown and hop in a cab.
But an airport I really dislike is São Paulo's Guarulhos. The airport is fairly new, but it feels enclosed and confusing. It's also insanely difficult to reach by car and impossible by public transportation. Big mistakes!
What are your favorite regional dishes, and where do you love to eat?
Naturally, I am very partial to Brazilian regional cuisine and like to tell others about it. I love Bahian food (Bobó de Camarão, Muquéca de Peixe) [from Bahia state on Brazil's Atlantic coast] and food from Minas Gerais (Feijão Tropeiro). In São Paulo there is a classic place called Consulado Mineiro with amazing Minas food. In Rio, I highly recommend Shirley's, an 80-year old, tiny, fish restaurant, hidden in the Leme neighborhood, next to Copacabana.
What are the most important considerations when organizing a business trip to the region?
I always make sure I have enough business cards with me. I also try to find out beforehand what is the type of electrical outlet of where I am going. Often you need an adaptor and I can't be without Wi-Fi. In general, the world is so globalized that one can find basically anything in any large city, so I don't worry too much.
Béco Dranoff's Flea Market Forays
I'm always looking for something typical from the places I visit. It's hard since I live in New York where I can find basically anything from anywhere (and sometimes even cheaper). For myself, I am always on the lookout for rare LPs. I am an avid collector and always research where the local flea markets and used record stores can be found. Sometimes I come back empty handed, but often I find an amazing masterpiece album for one dollar!