In the great restaurant of life, there are those who eat and those who get eaten. Raimundo Nonato finds an alternative way, a life of his own: he cooks in order to survive and find a place in society. He arrives in town without a penny in his pockets and starts working as help in a decadent bar, a nasty place, lost amid the urban desert. He sleeps in the storage room on the back, and under a cold neon light learns how to fry "pastel" and "coxinhas", outdoing his "master", Zulmiro, the owner of the bar. Nonato is ignorant, but talented. He knows how to work the kitchen, soon others realize it too. The first one to notice him, is Iria, a prostitute, who doesn't know how to cook but loves to eat and starts an affair with him. Then, Giovanni, the owner of the Boccaccio (an Italian restaurant in the neighborhood), offers Nonato a job as his apprentice. A turn of events results in Nonato spending time in prison. For the prisoners and their boss, the violent Bujiù, Nonato is a savior; in fact soon their meager meals turn to a feast of exotic dishes orchestrated by Nonato's magic. As a consequence of this, Nonato is given the following the nickname, a well suited one indeed: Rosemary.
The naive immigrant from the Northeast Raimundo Nonato has just arrived in São Paulo and is hungry and without money. After eating in a smalltime restaurant, the owner Zulmiro offers him to clean the kitchen to pay the bill. On the next morning, he offers a job to Nonato, cooking and cleaning the kitchen; in return, he would eat and sleep in a small storage room, but without salary. The restaurant becomes a sensation with Nonato's appetizers "coxinha" and "pastel" and attracts the attention of Giovanni, the owner of the classy Italian restaurant Boccaccio, who offers a better job for him in the kitchen of his restaurant and teaches him the secrets of a good meal. Meanwhile, Nonato falls in love for the always hungry streetwalker Íria, who refuses to kiss Nonato, although they have sex. Events take a turn for the worse and Raimundo Nonato a.k.a. "Alecrim" arrives in prison, sharing a cell with seven prisoners leaded by Bujiú. When the despised Nonato offers to improve their food cooking in the cell, he climbs in the inner hierarchy, sleeping no longer on the floor, but in the bunk bed immediately below Bujiú and earning respect from the other inmates.
- The world is made of those who eat and those who get eaten. Raimundo Nonato, our protagonist, finds an alternative way: he cooks. He cooks first in a bar, then in an Italian Restaurant and then in prison - how did he end up in jail? He cooks and learns how to get by in a society divided in two between those who eat and those who get eaten. What he learns, are a series of rules he uses to his advantage: in the end, the cook must also get his share of food and only he knows which part tastes best. Estômago is an adult fable on power, sex and cooking.