Though he brought with him the traditions of his homeland, Chef Carlos Arriaga has decidedly distinguished himself as a true New York visionary in innovating new representations of Portuguese cuisine. As head chef at Alfama restaurant, for the past fourteen years Arriaga has fashioned many fresh, delectable (meals) for his eager diners, some of which he has chosen to share with us today. and a sprinkle of the Big Apple, turn your kitchen into a gourmet haven.
This season, this distinguished Portuguese Chef is sharing his talents with us. Try making his special Celery Root Puree in the comfort of your own home.
Prep time 30 minutes
- 1 lb. of Celery Root (pealed, washed and cubed)
- 1 Idaho potato (pealed, washed and cubed)
- 1 small onion (pealed, washed and chopped)
- ½ cup of heavy cream
- Fresh black pepper
- Place celery root, potato and onion in a medium pot with cold water. Bring to a boil , add salt and allow cooking for 15 minutes until slightly crunchy.
- Remove from the stove, cover the pot and drain the water. Bring back to the stove, uncover and add the cream, fresh pepper. Stir and let it simmer for 7 minutes or after cream is well incorporated and partially reduced.
- Transfer the mix to a food processer, blend well and adjust seasoning.
- It’s a perfect companion for a beef tenderloin steak paired with roasted quince and melted cheese.
A native of Lisbon, Arriaga’s interest in cooking was evident from the age of five, when he would accompany his grandmother to the fish market to choose the catch of the day. “Before I could properly carry on a conversation, I was able to name most types of fish” he says. And such love for fresh fish and seafood clearly set the professional path Arriaga would later follow in life. From the age of 15, even before finishing high school, Arriaga knew that he wanted to become a professional chef. And shortly after graduating in 1996, he enrolled in a vocational training course in cooking and pastry arts at the School of Hotel Management and Tourism in Coimbra, northern Portugal.
Upon graduation in 1999, his first job was as Line Cook at the upscale Vintage House Hotel in Pinhao, in the Douro Valley, a Relais & Chateaux property. That same year, Jose De Bouza Serrano, an appointed diplomat of Portugal to the Holy See, was vacationing in the Douro Valley. And after a three-day stay at the Vintage House Hotel and tasting Arriaga’s cooking, Ambassador Serrano invited Arriaga to move to Rome to cook at the embassy. At the tender age of 22, Arriaga became Chef de Cuisine at the Official Residence of the Ambassador of Portugal to the Holy.
In 2002, upon visiting New York, Arriaga could not resist the allure of having a “Big Apple” experience and accepted the position of Chef de Cuisine at Alfama, The Portuguese restaurant in Manhattan.