Fans of Samba Montclair and the culinary skills of Brazilian-born Chef Ilson Gonçalves can try and recreate some of Gonçalves’ favorite dishes at home with The Samba Montclair Cookbook: Authentic Home-style Brazilian Recipes and Reminiscences.
The book features the chef’s memories of growing up in the southern state of Santa Catarina, where he learned to prepare these dishes from scratch using fresh, all-natural ingredients.
One of those ingredients is yuca and the root vegetable (which grew wild in Gonçalves’ backyard growing up) figures prominently in the cookbook’s 42 recipes for home cooks, including yuca gnocchi, yuca and codfish croquettes and Bolinho de Mandioca, a coconut yuca cake that Gonçalves’ favorite dessert as a child.
“It was common for me to pick wild fruits for snacking and spend the day surrounded by natural beauty,” says Gonçalves.
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. When Gonçalves came to the United States at age 23 with just a few dollars in his pocket, he began working at a top-rated New Jersey restaurant, ascending from bussing to waiting tables to managing.
The Samba Montclair Cookbook (A Life in Print, 2017) $39.95 (Hardcover) Available on Amazon.com