Adega Portuguese Experience

There’s really nothing like seeing parents beam with pride for their children. Carlos and Fernanda Carreira, owners of Michelin-starred Adega restaurant, have every reason to be proud of their daughter and her fiancé, head chefs Jessica Carreira and David Costa, who organized a culinary event that was far bigger than any that has been seen here in San Jose, much less in humble Little Portugal. On a trip to New York with Team San Jose, the Carreira family and David Costa had the chance to visit another Portuguese Michelin-starred restaurant, Aldea. While Jessica and David shared the kitchen with head chef George Mendes, Carlos admitted to having a “crazy idea” to bring together some of the best Portuguese chefs in the world and host them at Adega. Jessica and David took that vision and ran with it, inviting Mendes, Alexandre Silva of Loco in Lisbon, and Pedro Lemos of Pedro Lemos Restaurante in Porto to co-create a menu of Portuguese-inspired foods, paired with the best Portuguese wines. And just like that, the first annual All-Star Michelin event was born.

Adega and their guest chefs turned the dining room into a culinary tour of the flavors of Portugal, hosting three dinner experiences aimed at bringing people together and raising money for No Kid Hungry. The visiting chefs went on day trips, including visiting a farm to collect produce for the evening’s dinner, and enjoyed the South Bay’s (unseasonably warm) weather before coming back to share a kitchen and produce an elevated menu inspired by the comfort foods and flavors of Portugal.

Although Jessica is a native of San Jose, she is no stranger to Portugal—she lived and studied culinary arts there for three years, meeting her fiancé David, a native of Portugal. “Because Portugal was a main route for trade, it had access to a huge variety of spices and flavors that make their way into Portuguese food—making it the first fusion cuisine,” Carlos said, as the first of seven courses started. The abundance of spices was evident, from the Carabineiro shrimp with frozen tangerine to the matcha crème brûlée with black sesame cake and soy sauce ice cream. Over the course of the night, before each course, chefs would share a story of influence or personal memories, followed by a description of the wine selected for the perfect pairing.

It was easy to forget, while spending time within the four walls of this restaurant, eating food from Michelin-starred chefs, and sipping on fine wines from Portugal, that this experience was happening in a small space directly off busy Alum Rock Avenue. People driving by can easily miss it. It’s unlikely, and it’s humble. But, as Mayor Sam Liccardo said, “This is the place I brag about to everyone.” Carlos, Fernanda, Jessica, and David have only had Adega open for two years, and in that time, proudly earned San Jose’s first Michelin star and have brought a fresh vision for events like this. One might say they should move to San Francisco or New York, but Jessica disagrees. She’s always had a vision for this happening in San Jose, her hometown, and, along with her family and fiancé, plans to do more events like this, possibly even opening a second restaurant. Making an appearance at the end of the night for the final two courses as the pastry chef, her sweet demeanor, amazing skills, and vision got a standing ovation from the dinners. She represents everything that makes San Jose great: talent, vision, and hustle—mixed with an undying love for the city that raised her.

Written by Sarah Garcia
Photography by Daniel Garcia

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