Spirit of Culinary Exploration

At the helm of Quail Valley's culinary ventures, Chef Joe Faria draws on his Portuguese heritage

Chef Joe Faria encourages budding chefs to draw on their backgrounds to help create dishes that reflect their heritage. Photo by Kim Bottalico
Chef Joe Faria encourages budding chefs to draw on their backgrounds to help create dishes that reflect their heritage. Photography by Kim Bottalico

During the Age of Exploration, Portuguese ships sailed. the Seven Seas and journeyed to new horizons. Exotic spices were often the precious cargo they brought home. As a Portuguese chef who hails from the Azores, Jose “Joe” Faria feels very connected to that history. For him, culinary arts represent his way to be an explorer.

Recalling his childhood, Faria says, “Mom was a great cook, as most moms are.” Because food is often associated with nostalgia and cultural traditions, “chefs always bring you back home.” The family enjoyed seafood—naturally, since the Azores are an archipelago—and had their own farm. “I would go to the chicken coop, collect the eggs, bring them in, and watch Mom do her magic.”

Eventually, the family emigrated to Boston, where they felt comfortable in the large Portuguese community there. However, Faria’s first job in a professional kitchen was with a Japanese restaurant. It turned out to be another formative experience. “I kind of merge my Portuguese taste to the Japanese flair.” He notes that when the Portuguese explorers were sailing the world in search of spices, “Japan was one of their stops.” Faria’s own traditions dovetail with international cuisine.

As executive chef and food-and-beverage director for Quail Valley, Faria is very much at home in Vero Beach. He proudly serves on the advisory board for Indian River State College, supporting its culinary program and mentoring students in the Culinary Olympics. In 2016, the group traveled to Germany for the finals, winning a silver medal and two bronze medals—and that was in the chefs’ category, not just the students’ category. “They put a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication into that,” he says.

Faria loves his work at Quail Valley, in part because of the variety of it. At the Golf Club, The Pointe, the River Club, and the club’s market, menus offer a total of more than
300 items per day. People ask how he does it all, but Faria explains: “I put the creativity back into the staff. My sous chefs and all the culinarians have a say.”

And when they are in need of inspiration, Faria encourages them to look back to their own childhoods and their cultural traditions. “Give me something that comes from you, and you will be proud and happy.”

Burrata & Truffle Vinaigrette Salad. Photo by Kim Bottalico

Burrata & Truffle Vinaigrette Salad

Serves 2

This is a creative salad that allows Faria to show his flair with presentation.

For Salad:

  • 1 burrata, cut in half
  • 2 handfuls finger-length greens
  • 1 box assorted mini–heirloom tomatoes, fire-roasted*

For Dressing:

  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp. truffle oil
  • 1/4 tsp. chives, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together mustard, truffle oil, chives, shallot, and vinegar until combined. Slowly stream in olive oil while continuously whisking. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into mason jar, top with greens.

*On a metal tray, place tomatoes and blister them with a kitchen torch. If you do not have a kitchen torch, you can place them in the oven under a broil setting until golden brown.

Portuguese Seafood Cataplana. Photo by Kim Bottalico

Portuguese Seafood Cataplana

Serves 2

This traditional dish is prepared and served in a special copper pot called a cataplana. A Dutch oven can be used as a substitute. In either case, Faria recommends serving it with steamed white rice and crusty garlic bread. He has made cataplana a distinctive and popular specialty at Quail Valley.

  • 3 tbsp. virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. chorizo or linguiça, thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut in 8 pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 oz. clam juice
  • 1 oz. white wine
  • 12 small clams
  • 12 small mussels
  • 12 shrimp—raw, peeled, and tail on
  • 1 1/4 pound New England lobster, cooked and cut in half
  • 4 oz. grouper, cut in quarters

In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add chorizo or linguiça and sauté, stirring often, approximately 3 minutes. Add onion, garlic, tomato, bay leaves, and paprika and continue stirring 5–6 more minutes.

Add cooked mixture to cataplana pan or Dutch oven, then proceed to add remaining ingredients.

Cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes or until the clams open up.

My personal favorite is to serve it with steamed white rice and crusty garlic bread.

Portuguese Citrus Flan Cake. Photo by Kim Bottalico

Portuguese Citrus Flan Cake

Serves 8-10

This combination of cake and flan, vibrant with citrus, began as a collaboration between Faria and a pastry chef who worked at Quail Valley. “This is definitely ours.”

For Caramel Bottom:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

In a saucepot, combine water and sugar.

Caramelize mixture to the color of maple syrup; pour into an 8-inch cake pan.

For Custard:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Bring heavy cream, milk, vanilla, and sweetened condensed milk to a boil.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, salt, and sugar. Stream in boiled milk to egg mixture while whisking.

Run the custard through a fine mesh strainer and add to cake pan.

Bake in a water bath, unwrapped, for 15 minutes or until a skin is formed.

For Cake:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk together eggs, oil, juice, and vanilla. Add in flour, sugar, and baking powder; mix until combined.

Gently pour cake mixture onto flan base. Return to oven in water bath and bake for another 45–50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Refrigerate overnight. Before serving, run a knife around the edge of the pan. Flip the pan over onto a platter. Cut to desired size and use the remaining caramel as a sauce.

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