Portimonense’s chef, Daniel Marreiros, recently made the final four in MasterChef: The Professionals 2021 UK.
After the 6-week competition, which brought together 32 competing professionals, Daniel emphasized that “MasterChef is a once-in-a-lifetime experience”.
Inspired by family
Daniel Mariros was born in Portimao in the Algarve and explained, “My passion for cooking all started because of my grandmother, I wasn’t cooking in the very early days, it was the fact that I realized that cooking a meal was a form of bringing us all together and it was a form of turning the world off a little bit. I started watching some cooking shows and they were putting together the recipes and then eventually I would ask my mum for the ingredients.” Admitting that “what I was cooking might have been pretty awful at the time, but my family has always supported me.”
Daniel then went to a cooking school in the Algarve after “realizing that cooking would give me my independence and in cooking school I loved everything; the rush, the sound of pans, the sense of urgency, do it right and fast, so it really went from there”.
While in cooking school, “I got a job at Lion of Balconies In the Algarve and I worked with an English chef there and learned a lot because he has a Michelin star background.” He quickly developed into a chef there at just nineteen years old, and was there for a few more years.
“The idea of going to London was fermenting inside of me and one day I gave my notice and booked a one-way ticket. I found out that London is notorious for being a very difficult place to cook with long hours, so I knew that if I didn’t do it at that point in my life I would probably go on and leave The dream is dying which I don’t want to do.”
In London, he worked in various restaurants before embarking on MasterChef, most recently as Head Chef at the Portuguese restaurant “Volta Do Mar” in Covent Garden in London which was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2021.
He explained that he has always been a huge fan of MasterChef “This is the show I liked the most and probably watched in every season and in a way it really happened. It was an honor to meet Chef Marcus Wearing, Chef Monica Galletti and Greg Wallace, people to whom I hold a lot of respect.” .
When it came to the dishes on the show, Daniel explained how influential the Algarve can be.
“In terms of production and product quality, I am totally passionate about fish and seafood because I grew up by the sea, love to go to the markets and love to meet the fishermen who have a beer in the morning.”
“Portugal is a very small country, yet in all regions there are many different types of food that are completely independent of each other and I have always thought of sticking with the traditional principle and making it your own and applying some other approach with a little more care and not straying from what it really is traditional Because the combination works but then just take a different approach.”
“One thing I didn’t want to do on the show was get dishes from someone else, I just wanted to do exactly what I believe in and who I am. It totally reflects where I grew up and how I grew up which was mainly with seafood and fish. On the show, I basically cooked fish and developed some of my grandfather’s favorite dishes after he passed away. All of my food is very personal because I have to be emotionally involved in that and I think that shows.”
“The experience was absolutely fantastic and on the critics’ tour I cooked gazpacho which was one of my grandfather’s favorite dishes and has been modifying this gazpacho for years but it’s something I really like and we had at home. It’s not the traditional arjamolho, some say it’s from Portimão some say it’s from Silves but it’s definitely an Algarve dish. Eating these dishes are so important to me and getting such great feedback from top UK critics and the fact that people watching the show have been so supportive is a real blessing so I would say that was a highlight.”
Additionally, “One of the best things that will come from the show is the belief that I can cook what I believe in and bring out who I am. I think the show has given me the strength to believe and continue to hone my style and made me want to invest in the things I believe in.”
“I want to show more of the Algarve and I am currently building my own brand which will focus on private dining events, pop-up restaurants and other culinary events in the UK as well as in Portugal and I also have festivals scheduled in the UK.”
“My website is under construction right now, but in less than a month I will be able to announce it to the world, but ideally, I want to really get close to people. You know that feeling of novelty, I want to bring that to people, no arrogance, just I cook to the best of my ability in a welcoming manner and create good moments for people.”
“In the long run I see that I have my own restaurant and I hope to be in Portugal, but if the right opportunity presents itself, it could be in the UK as well. I have a vision for that and I would like it to be an open kitchen without partitions, so I will never stop pursuing that dream.” !”