Brazilian-born Chef Ilson Gonçalves shares customer-favorite recipes from his restaurant in The Samba Montclair Cookbook: Authentic Home-style Brazilian Recipes and Reminiscences. The book includes 42 recipes for home cooks interested in the multi-cultural flavors of Brazil with its European, African and indigenous influences. From Feijoada (Brazil’s national dish) to Camarão na moranga (Creamy shrimp-filled winter squash, pictured) to Pão de queijo (Gluten-free homemade cheese bread), Gonçalves guides the reader each step of the way while providing simple secrets for achieving perfect results.
Gonçalves learned to cook by watching his mother and helping her peel carrots and potatoes in the kitchen of her neighborhood restaurant. From an early age, he dreamed of owning his own place, creating make-shift kitchens with friends in their tree houses.
“It was common for me to pick wild fruits for snacking and spend the day surrounded by natural beauty,” said Gonçalves of his childhood in the southern state of Santa Catarina. “If I craved my favorite dessert, Bolinho de Mandioca, a coconut yuca cake, my mother would send me out to pick the root vegetable which grew wild in our backyard.”
When Gonçalves came to the United States at age 23 with just a few dollars in his pocket, he began working at a New Jersey restaurant, ascending from bussing to waiting tables to managing. He opened Samba Montclair in 2010.
In this MRM News video, Gonçalves talks about the process of producing the cookbook and his influences.