WORCESTER — When Marcos Ferreira was a young boy growing up in Minas Gerais, Brazil, he watched his mom cook everything from scratch, using fresh ingredients, and it always made an impression on him.
He came to the United States, to Worcester, in 2003, and at age 21 landed a job at Peppercorn’s Grille & Tavern not long after washing dishes.
“I knew how to cook for my family, but the restaurant world was new to me and of course the food is totally different here than what I grew up with,” said Ferreira . “As I started working my way up, I realized how much I enjoyed being in the kitchen — there’s always a challenge, something to learn, something you can improve on.”
Ferreira eventually got a position as a sous chef in Prezo in Milford, where he cut his teeth, only to return to Peppercorn’s, where he worked his way up to executive chef.
“While I was at Prezo, Tim Vaillete was the head chef,” said Ferreira . “Working with him inspired me to take more of a leadership role in the kitchen. When I came back to Peppercorn’s, I worked with Tomasso Gargiulo and he became like a mentor to me. He taught me a lot about classic techniques. It’s very rewarding to me to have such a great crew in the kitchen working hard to keep everything consistent and high quality.”
Most important chef’s tool: A sharp knife!
What’s in your fridge at home? Usually some fresh mozzarella and feta to eat with the thing I enjoy the most during the summer — the heirloom tomatoes from my own garden.
If you could cook for anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? Anthony Bourdain
Best cooking music: All depends on how busy we are, usually hip hop.
Favorite dish to make: Anything on the grill, or a dish that I can cook with my kids.
Favorite dish on the menu: Pistachio Haddock — pistachio-encrusted haddock with zucchini noodles, roasted cauliflower and a lemon caper sauce.
Food you don’t like: For the most part I’ll eat anything, but I won’t bother buying eggplant.
Most inspirational to you as a chef: Chef Tomasso Gargiulo; I met him when I worked with him years ago. He has so much knowledge about technique and ingredients — and lots of good stories.
Cooking shows you watch? “Chef’s Table” on Netflix
Peppercorn’s Grille and Tavern, located at 455 Park Ave., Worcester, is a family-friendly restaurant that offers a variety of options on its menu including seafood, thin-crust pizza, pasta, burgers and chicken, and specializes in casual Italian selections. Call 508-752-7711.
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