Our guest this week is Frederico Ribeiro, a Portuguese Chef in New York, who after passing through the kitchens of some of the best restaurants in the world, gained fame for his food in a Taiwanese tea house that his wife wanted to open, which did not even have a kitchen.

Originally from Santa Maria da Feira, Frederico Ribeiro arrived in New York with only $200 in his pocket and with a student visa. He went to help a friend, who lent him the sofa to sleep in the first month, and try his luck in the kitchens of the vibrant American city.

But in his luggage he carried something more valuable: experience in some of the best restaurants in the world, such as El Bulli. After many emails and more insistence, the Chef managed to reach the kitchen of Per Se, one of the best restaurants in New York and which, since 2006, has maintained an incredible three Michelin stars.

Fame, however, would come later and in a less conventional way. Frederico Ribeiro was not happy where he worked and decided to help his wife, originally from Taiwan, to open a tea shop in the West Village. The shop had no kitchen, but by chance, and in an incident worthy of a novel, he eventually began to serve food that had been made for his lunch and that of his wife.

Since then, he has had reviews in The New York Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and in the New York social life bible, the New Yorker, thus describes his Té Company: “This little Taiwanese tea house is one of the most exciting places to eat in New York.”

In this conversation with Filipe Santos Costa, the Portuguese explains what it’s like to be a Chef in one of the best cities in the world for restaurants, tells the strangeness of Americans with the Pudding Abade de Priscos and how every time you come to Portugal he has to go to Ricoca for lunch, in Oliveira de Azeméis, his grandmother’s restaurant, which has cod açorda waiting for him.

“New York is the best place to be a chef. There’s this cosmopolitanism of bringing the whole world together, but people are extremely kind. The relationship between Chefs here in New York is extremely fantastic.” – Frederico Ribeiro

When he passed through Per Se, he realized that his advantage was in the cultural difference. He was only the second Portuguese to work in what is still one of the best restaurants in New York and so he could bring a different approach. Another advantage: the restaurant imported its fish from Portugal.

“Portuguese food is best known through cod, sardines. We were very lucky because the fish of Per Se, is imported from Portugal. Brill, sardines… Portugal’s fish is spectacular. The advantage is that I could propose dishes that were Portuguese. Portuguese cuisine is not well known.”

The story of Chef Frederico Ribeiro is an authentic story of perseverance, passion, and struggle for his passion, with some comical episodes in the mix and a successful result.

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