Downtown St. Petersburg Portuguese Fusion Restaurant Revitalizes Menu
Tampa Bay, FLA (February 19th, 2020) – Since opening in November of 2016, Iberian Rooster has made a name for themselves as an eclectic eatery along the Central Ave strip in Downtown St. Pete. While remaining a local favorite, the Portuguese Fusion restaurant is shaking things up as they welcome the culinary mastermind, Andrew Silas – formerly of Locale and The Mill, into their kitchen. In a recent interview, Andrew discusses everything from his background, to what makes the new menu special. The interview also discloses Andrew’s passion for creating beautiful and tasty food while holding homage to the cultures incorporated in the cuisine.
Tell us about your history?
Chef Silas: I was born in Alabama. My mom couldn’t cook, but my great grandmother could. She always hosted Thanksgiving, so I liked to spend time with her. I moved to Panama City, FL. at 12, and was never interested in being a chef, until I took on a cooking internship program my senior year in High School. I didn’t want to be one of the kids interning at doctors or lawyers offices like everyone else but I also had no real plans of going to cooking school yet. After High School, I went to Gulf Coast Community College, The Art Institute of Miami, and did an apprenticeship in Rosemary Beach, Florida. When I moved to Tampa, I looked everywhere for work often times for just the reward of the experience.
Who are your greatest inspirations?
Chef Silas: My Master Chef from School, Sandor. I didn’t really have a father figure growing up, so (to me) Sandor was so graceful and had so much dignity, He showed me the kind of man and chef I wanted to be. I would also say Anthony Bordain for bridging the gap between seedy culinary lifestyle and the television scene, and of course, my Granny.
Your favorite restaurant in Florida?
Chef Silas: This is an easy one! Lenny’s in Clearwater, FL. The parking lot is always so full of people (they) had to park at the hotel next door. They’re (the hotel) just so used to it. It’s a breakfast place that closes at 3pm. It’s the best place hands down, it’s where I always take my friends. I also love a French place called Le Buchon in Seminole, but I think they’re closed now.
Why did you choose to bring your talents to Iberian Rooster?
Chef Silas: Once I found out there an opportunity to bring good food to a cool location known for their events.When I met Russel, I knew I wanted to work for this guy, we both want to just bring good food to this city.
What’s new on the menu?
Chef Silas: Most of the dinner items, including the scallops. Pretty much everything! 85% of the menu is changing.
Tell us about your favorite 3 dishes on the new menu?
Chef Silas: The wings – they’re made with our super secret Gochujang sauce and they are also breaded in potato starch so they’re super crispy and gluten free! Also, the tomato veggie pie and the minchi pot pie, its an standard item with a new recipe.
What makes the charcuterie board interesting or unique?
Chef Silas: Our guanciale takes about 3 weeks to cure, dry hang, all that. I haven’t really seen anyone use that before.
How did you change the minchi and goan patty recipes?
Chef Silas: First, we make them in smaller batches so it’s fresher now, I’ve never looked at old recipes but I heard complaints. The Masala is KEY. We have it shipped to us by a staff family member. Now, the minchi is a little juicer and the goan patty has a little more flavor. Every culture has a hand pie and calls it its own thing, then I take the original recipe and mix it up.
Tell us about your new drag brunch menu.
Chef Silas: Drag Brunch will be $20 for a brunch buffet. Bottomless mimosas are $15 and bloody marys are $20.
What’s the secret to the sauce on the wings?
Chef Silas: The gochujang comes as a thick paste and then we turn it into a sauce. The base is the gochujang paste and the secret is the extra that we do to it. But, like I said, it’s a secret. Wiiiiiiiiiink.
What menu items are the most unique & why?
Chef Silas: The scallop dish, its colorful, super fresh, have a lot of my favorite ingredients. It comes with sweet potato biscuits which is my granny’s recipe. Peri peri chicken sandwich is also special.
Tell us about the Ribeye.
Chef Silas: I cut the ribeye by hand but it’s about a 14-16 oz ribeye, I shoot for a pound. Cutting by hand now is inspired by grilling steaks for Ted Dorsey (at the Mill). He’s very talented and always has a huge chunk of steak on the menu, so in a way it was a homage to him.
Tell us about the Portuguese dishes.
Chef Silas: Sorpatel, Goan Patties, Feijoada, Minchi (+pot pie), pretty much anything in the colonial bowl section is a classic Portuguese dish.
What techniques are you using that are interesting / unique?
Chef Silas: Mostly classically French training combined with new technologies that are emerging. Creating the savory ice cream is an example of that. Knowing that someone pulled it off somewhere, lets me know I can do it too. You see the same ingredients everywhere you go, it’s up to us to make it interesting.
What is your favorite and least favorite ingredient?
Chef Silas: I hate rice, I have this obsession with fidgeting and touching stuff and rice doesn’t let you do that, I can never just leave it alone. I’m always excited to cook with the house Masala recipes.
Who would you cook for and why?
Chef Silas: Sandor Zombori, my master chef, I’d like to show him how I’ve tracked.
Something you’ve always wanted to do/try inside of the kitchen and out?
I want to do as much as we can from scratch as possible in the kitchen, also skydiving.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
Chef Silas: Cooking was actually plan b, plan A was a writer. I’m also very good at juggling. I used to want to be a clown until everyone became afraid of them.
***some sentences have been changed for length and clarity***
ABOUT IBERIAN ROOSTER: Located in the historic Kress Building, the Iberian Rooster is a collection of interests and experiences all in one place. Enlighten your taste buds with dinner at Iberian Rooster where the complexity of colonial street food meets the simplicity of tapas, interlocking in unexpectedly seamless ways to create innovative, dynamic dishes. Experience the exotic flavors of the culinary cultures of Mozambique, Macau, Brazil, and Goa. The lush space brims with the energy and warmth of Mouraria, and so does the colonial fusion on every small plate. Iberian Rooster is located at 475 Central Avenue North #100, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. https://www.iberianrooster.
EVOLVE & CO: Evolve & Co is a full-service advertising agency located in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. The company is a collective of brand strategists and creatives located at 475 Central Avenue Suite M7, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701. www.evolveandco.com