In the ascendant Daniel Marreiros....

"Its something that only happens once in your life
and you have to go for it all guns blazing" Daniel Marreiros

 It commands huge respect and takes immense courage and a strong personality to go and risk your reputation in front of top chefs, renowned food critics and most of all a world of TV viewers. Masterchef the Professionals gives ascendant chefs a platform to highlight the dishes of their particular cultures.In 2020 Santosh Shah brought Nepalese food into our lives and in 2021 It was the turn of Daniel Marreiros to bring his own spin on Algarvian cuisine. For this one man, the will to compete on Masterchef had been at the back of his mind for some time, however it was  only in 2021 that he thought he met the necessary qualifications to try his luck. For those of you who did not catch Masterchef UK the Professionals 2021 you missed some pretty creative cooking. There was one star that began shining very early on, Portuguese chef Daniel Marreiros from Portimao, in the West Algarve.

To his surprise, he was selected, joined the group of competitors and reached the six finalists in the series. When asked what he felt when he learned he was one of the finalists, he reveals that
"I never even imagined that I would be one of those selected to participate in the programme, let alone be one of the finalists. I felt an enormous gratitude, it still feels like it's not real".
In September 2009, he joined the Portimão School of Hotel and Tourism, studying Portuguese Cuisine, International Cuisine, Pastry, Food and Beverage, Tourism, Career Management, Hygiene and Nutrition.He immediately felt sure that he had made the right decision. The atmosphere it evoked fascinated him, from the noise of the pans, the apron, the urgency of the orders and teamwork.These were three pivotal years in his life, learning, and spending time with trainers who are great professionals and for whom he always had great admiration.After completing his studies, he began his professional career at a prestigious restaurant in the Algarve O Leão de Porches, in Porches,then ranked number one in the area by tripadvisor.

How would you describe your approach to working in the kitchen?

- Well, I would say probably that I need to cook things that I love to eat, to be somewhat emotionally involved with it, to have a connection. That for me is imperative, otherwise you are cooking as a task, in a robotic manner and for me that doesn ́t work. You will feel the lack of emotional involvement in the dish. When there is a story behind, when there is a high level of care you will run the extra mile. Its all about the extra mile you want to invest in. I have to cook something I believe in, it has be honest, for myself and for others.

"Back in portugal for a few days, at the market getting a"little" bit over excited.
That early morning rush, filling my body up with caffeine and going for an eternal walk in a loop talking to the fishermen and figuring out what I am actually going to cook .Love the market noise...."

Would you call yourself a perfectionist?

Not at all, I think I am far from touching perfection, In fact I don’t believe it exists. There is always room for improvement, areas to polish, something that could have been done better. I believe we chefs should be aware of that, all we have is the constant pursuit to make things better constantly, and hopefully unlocking new levels of flavour on that pursuit, then keep pushing for more, constantly. Repeating the process, all the time.

In just eight months and at the age of 19 he became the restaurant's head chef. 
He continued his journey there for another two years, but felt the need to gain more knowledge, acquire new experiences and learn about new cultures. In 2012 Daniel decided to emigrate to the UK.

Do you experience stress sometimes? and how do you overcome it?

- Stressing is classic, classic, Daniel Marreiros behaviour ( laughs ), I don ́t overcome it, I need it. I only stress with things that I care a lot about, is that fear of potential failure that gives me almost a rebellious strength of not surrendering to the fear. It keeps me on my tip toes, so, I am grateful for it, because it acts as a strong fuel for performance. It all depends on how you conduct that energy.

What made you choose UK?

My first job as a chef after school was with an English chef that has an extensive Michelin background, and it just became a natural decision for me to go to the UK, I thought that it would be the right place for me to become a better chef. Was definitely not the weather ( laughs ).

In London, he has worked at many restaurants among others Kitchen W8, which served modern British food and held one Michelin star and, most recently,for two years as head chef at Volta do Mar restaurant in Covent Garden which was awarded a place in the Michelin Guide with a Bib Gourmand, in 2021.The restaurant´s speciality was serving food from Portugal and its colonies.
From a very early age Daniel knew his future lay in the kitchen. His grandmother, a passionate cook herself, awakened in him an interest and immense love of cooking. He remembers how through her food she brought the whole family together round the table, something Daniel himself aspires to. He has a huge admiration for his family and says that they are the fuel that drives his passion, not the motorbikes I hasten to add. Most of all he wants to take the family name "Marreiros" with him to places of pride and crowning achievement.
Through his childhood experiences, he realized that “cooking was a demonstration of love where no
words were needed”. Moved by this desire, from an early age he ventured into the kitchen creating countless “signature dishes” for his mother who, despite not always being impressed, approved everything in order to encourage him and not to deter that ardour. His grandfathers favourite dish was "alimado"
It’s in the preparation details of this dish as well as the knowledge acquired from the past generations, that the richness of Portuguese regional gastronomy is based. If there are dishes that identify the Algarvian culinary heritage, the carapaus alimados (horse mackerel Algarvian style) is, undoubtedly, one of them.This is the dish Daniel chose to present for the "signature dish round" of Masterchef. Anyone from the Agarve will undoubtedly know what an alimado is. Daniel´s version was not done in the usual way, but with added Japanese overtones which nevertheless captured the foundation of flavours that it is built on, fish, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, parsley and the all important salt cure. Having played around with it for along time Daniel had arrived at a version he was more than happy to present to the critics. Daniel laughingly points out that his grandfather would probably say to him "couldn´t you just do it simple as it is, look at it, looks like a Christmas tree.  Secretly he would be extremely happy and proud for his grandson´s most recent rendition."
Regarding his participation in the programme he describes it as 
"incredible, I wouldn't have changed anything in the process. At first it was almost a shock to meet chefs  Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti in person. The initial contact with the chambers in the mythical Skills Test was a little strange. Meeting other cooks I respect and seeing the different styles they all bring to the table was very rewarding. I got to respect competitors from previous editions much more. It's much harder when we're not in the comfort of our couch! I only have positive moments to share, without a doubt that my participation in Masterchef was a very enriching experience, both personally and professionally."

Seabream ,spider crab,rock prawns,Grelos de couve,refogado

Very little if any meat features in your portfolio.
Any particular reason? Would you say your specialism is fish and seafood?

This might come across like I don’t like meat, which is very far from true. However, fish and seafood is really where my heart beats. So that is probably why naturally I have the tendency to cook it more often.

What are your feelings about veganism and vegetarians?

- Good Question, well. I respect everyone’s beliefs and if people choose to live their life with a certain type of diet, so be it. But personally, I could not see myself doing it. There is some many types of food I like , for different reasons , so many more to discover and I don ́t think I would be able to self-sabotage in such manner. 

“A Bowl Full of sea”
During his time on Masterchef, he did not forget the products and flavours of his native Algarve. One of his creations was the dish “Bowl full of sea”, inspired by the typical “seafood platters”, very typical of the Algarve.The challenge in creating this dish was to put all the ingredients in harmony so that an explosion of sea flavours was felt when tasting. The challenge was overcome having managed to please the judges' palates.

"Every mouthful has a new flavour,because you have got the prawns and then you have got the oyster,little tempura of the squid ink is lovely,gives the dish a bit of texture,The Rillette at the bottom is delicious. I can´t fault it, absolutely adore this dish." Marcus Wareing

"the cooking of the carabineiro prawns are just spot on,you got tobiko, you got finger limes and the wasabi pearls and they all pop in and give a little bit of heat and saltiness.And then the crunchy bread with a bit of pepper over that you just dip into it and just enjoy everything together.Its delightful.I think it´s delicious and I am going to finish it if you don´t mind"
Monica Galetti

Daniel has great admiration for the programmme's jury, for the challenges that competitors face and even for the criticism they receive. The word humble comes to mind, to which I would also add respect, amenable, enthusiastic and of course Daniel´s own use of the word much. From the beginning of the series this was evident.
Humble to meet Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti, having total respect for them and any comments they made which he always considered extremely fair.  and now about the word much...... at one point in the programme Monica Galetti asks Daniel
"How much do you want this Daniel"
"Much. I dont think there is a word that can do justice.much much much"
and later on his instagram he thanks everybody for their support
"So much, very much a lot to say..... 
thank you very much, really (much much)"
truly "Much Much" thankful

and the feedback from the critics was overwhelming
Marcus Wareing "Wow...Wow,what a dish. Everything he´s put into this is just dancing and working together beautifully"

Monica Galetti "mind blowingly tasty plate of food.Can i have a second helping? More please"

Jay Rayner "Oh its just lovely, it really is.Kinda wanna imagine that Daniel heard he was going to be up first and thought"I know how i~m gonna start,i´m gonna knock their socks off"

Tracy Macleod         "Its just a wake up call to every corner of your plate isn´t it?"

Jimi Famurewa      "It´s just a real class act from start to finish"


Which chefs have Inspired you the most?

I have quite a few chefs that I admire a lot.

Pierre Koffmann - For his approach on making less noble cuts into incredible culinary experience, by his ability to implement taste in food and his contribution to the cooking world. I believe he is himself a pioneer and has been the knowledge back bone of many great chefs in the UK that did extremely well on their own after working for him. 

Phillip Howard - I identify myself with Chef Phillip ́s philosophy, his quest for taste, simplicity, sharpness, good execution and the belief that food is there with the purpose to provide pleasure. That ́s how I think in my head when developing a dish too.

David Everitt-Matthias - Chef David is the epitome of cooking as I see it through my eyes, he has been relentlessly pushing at the top of his form, consistently, for many years consecutively. Never once missing a service. Leading trends, not following. And someone of his status and path, must have acquired over the years a superb level of knowledge, skill and discipline that is, hardly matchable.

Through to the next round, the relief!!!

Most of the Portuguese chefs who went to London like Nuno Mendes have returned to Portugal to make projects there. Do you think you will do the same?

- I would love to return to Portugal at some point, so I would say yes to that for sure. However, I am not planning on doing it any time soon. But It all depends on life, sometimes plans change.

and now lets see what Daniel is going to bring not only to the table but to the world....
After finishing his participation in the programme, in the near future, Daniel Marreiros, aspires to have his own restaurant.

"I would like that space to have an open kitchen so that it is possible to interact with customers, in a relaxed and fun environment".

His biggest dream is to continue learning, developing his techniques and sharing with the world what he is most passionate about: cooking.Meanwhile for 2022 Daniel´s plan is to focus on fine dining.

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