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Chef Chat, Part 2: Giancarlo Ferrara of Arcodoro

Yesterday, we chatted with Chef Giancarlo Ferrara of Arcodoro about his passion of Italian cooking. Today we delve further into his background.

EOW: Tell me about how you went from several places in Europe to Florida to Houston.

Ferrara: Well, I met my American wife while working in Italy. After getting married, we moved to Florida, where I opened the Italian restaurant Primadonna. A few years later, my wife and I were visiting her family in Dallas, where I met Efisio [Farris, owner of Arcodoro]. Without [him] knowing I was a chef, we had a great conversation about food from Sardinia. Only later in the conversation when he asked what I [did], did I reveal I was a chef. It turns out that Arcodoro's Houston chef had left just a couple of weeks earlier, and Efisio was looking for a chef. He offered me a job but I was not sure if he was for real. Also, my wife and I just got settled in Florida and were not sure of another move. So I came to visit Houston to check it out. I had never been to Houston. I flew into Bush Airport, it was raining, and it took 30 minutes of driving through nothing before I saw the city. So my wife was really not too happy. But after meeting with Efisio, I liked his business model and attention to quality, so I have been here eight years now and still love serving authentically Sardinian.

EOW: So if you could only use one type of technique to cook for the rest of your life, what would that be and why?

Ferrara: It would be the wood-burning oven. I can run a restaurant with just a wood-burning oven. In Salerno, every house had a wood-burning oven in the backyard so I grew up learning how to cook with one. It's great because you can cook anything with it, like roasting meats or baking breads. One of the dishes we offer is octopus roasted in the wood-burning oven.

EOW: So if I could only order one thing from the menu, what would it be?

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Ferrara: That's a hard one. If I were choosing, I would pick the grilled octopus. I love octopus and we have very fresh octopus.

EOW: So, if you got to choose two dishes, which would the second dish be?

Ferrara: I would say the carpaccio since it's made with fresh branzino imported from Italy.

Tomorrow, we sample both dishes.

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