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Chef Ilson Goncalves Recipes – SAMBA Montclair, Montclair, NJ, USA

Chef ilson Goncalves, Debra C. Argen - Samba Montclair, NJ USA - photo by Luxury Experience
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Chef Ilson Goncalves - SAMBA Montclair

Chef Ilson Gonçalves, owner of the Brazilian gluten-free restaurant, SAMBA Montclair located in Montclair, New Jersey captures the spirit, the culture, and the best of Brazilian food. Passionate about food and creating memorable dining experiences for his patrons, he graciously shares his recipe for one of our favorite Brazilian dishes, Camarão na moranga (Creamy shrimp filled winter squash), to tempt your palates into experiencing his restaurant.

We had a wonderful dinner at SAMBA Montclair on Saturday, April 10, 2021 and met with Chef /Owner Ilson Gonçalves to learn more about this passionate chef. Originally from the state of Santa Carina located in the south of Brazil, Ilson grew up surrounded by fresh fruits and vegetables and good food as his mother had a small restaurant. Working with his mother before going to school in the afternoon, he would peel potatoes and carrots and let his mind drift off and imagine what it would be like to have his own restaurant. He would imagine what food he would serve and even the décor. However, he did not immediately choose a career in the restaurant world, choosing instead to go to the state of Brasilia to study engineering.

Debra C. Argen and Chef ilson Gonçalves

When he came to the United States, he started working in restaurants, worked his way up, and was encouraged by his mentor to go to culinary school. He followed his dream and graduated from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City.

In December 2010, he opened his restaurant, as a small Brazilian deli. In August 2020, he expanded his restaurant to better serve his clientele and broaden his menu to include more homestyle cuisine. The new space is gorgeous, and the menu offers some of the "best of Brazil" including the national dish of Brazil, Feijoada, a slow-cooked black bean and meat stew, served at the restaurant on Fridays and Saturdays.

When Chef Ilson learned that he had celiac disease, he made the restaurant gluten-free, as he was not going to cook anything that he could not eat. The result earned the restaurant to be Certified Gluten and Soy Free. A few of Chef’s favorite items on the menu include the beef stroganoff, Camarão na moranga (Creamy shrimp filled winter squash), one of the restaurant’s best sellers, and he loves their steaks. In addition to the restaurant being gluten-free, there are also many vegan and vegetarian offerings to appeal to diverse palates.

Every chef has his or her "go to" items, and for Chef Ilson Gonçalves, he loves cilantro and mint. When not working in the restaurant, or dreaming up new ideas for recipes, he loves to travel for the food culture. His passion for food travel has taken him to 38 countries where instead of visiting landmarks, he took cooking classes. Always learning, always exploring new ideas, is the key to what makes this chef happy.

In 2017, he realized another dream and wrote a cookbook featuring some of his favorite Brazilian food memories. Chef Ilson Gonçalves graciously shares his recipe for Camarão na moranga (Creamy shrimp filled winter squash), which is on the menu at SAMBA Montclair and is also in his cookbook, The Samba Montclair Cookbook, to tempt your palates into experiencing his restaurant.

Camarao na Moranga - Samba Montclair - NJ, USA

Chef Ilson Gon̤alves Recipe РSAMBA Montclair РCamaṛo na moranga (Creamy shrimp filled winter squash)
Yield: 4 servings

Camarão na moranga Ingredients:

Small, round
Acorn Squash (or other small winter squash)
Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Homemade "Sazon" (see recipe below)
Olive Oil
Garlic, minced
Onion, small diced
Tomato, peeled, seeded, and small diced
Tomato Paste
Heavy Cream
Cream Cheese
Parsley, chopped
Parmesan Cheese, shaved
Microgreens (optional)
Salt and Pepper


"Sazon" caseiro Ingredients:

Yield: One Half Cup

Garlic Powder
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

Method for the "Sazon": Mix all the spices. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Chef Ilson Gonçalves notes, "I was inspired to start making my own sazon after a life-changing trip to Morocco where I studied the country’s methods of spicing."

Method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 Celsius). Wrap acorn squash in aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked. Season shrimp with homemade sazon, salt, and pepper.

In a large pot, heat olive oil and sauté onion and garlic. Add the shrimp and cook for 1-minute, until it starts to change color. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and heavy cream, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Finally, add the cream cheese, parsley, and stir until combined. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Unwrap the squash and cut off the top part, saving it to be presented as the lid. You can also cut a thin layer off the bottom so the squash will sit still on the plate. Scoop out seeds with a spoon and season inside of the squash with salt and pepper.

Divide shrimp cream into 4 prepared squash and top with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with microgreens and serve with the top of the squash as a lid or on the side.

Chef Ilson Gonçalves notes, "I adapted this recipe to serve individual portions in a small squash and it is one of our best sellers at the restaurant. At home, my mother would use a large squash as a serving bowl in the center of the table with rice and beans on the side. Most of our meals are served family style."

SAMBA Montclair is open for Lunch from Monday through Friday from 12:00 pm until 3:00 pm, for Dinner Monday through Thursday from 5:00 pm until 9:30 pm, Friday and Saturday from 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm, and Sunday from 12:00 pm until 8:00 pm, and for Brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 pm until 3:00 pm. The restaurant is BYOB for wine and champagne only.

Read more about our dining experience atSAMBA Montclairin theRestaurantssection.

Read more aboutChef Ilson Gonçalves’ cookbook, The Samba Montclair cookbook in theLuxury Products – Gifts section.

Until next time, Bon Appetit!

Samba Montclair - Montclair, NJ USA

SAMBA Montclair
7 Park Street
Montclair, New Jersey 07042
United States
Telephone: +1-973-744-6764
Email: info@sambarestaurant.com
Website: www.sambamontclair.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sambamontclair/
Instagram: @sambamontclair
Twitter: @sambamontclair

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