empadas do Chef empadas do Chef

There’s a new chef in the Market…

…but he is not made of flesh and blood nor is he on the chefs’ wing. This ‘Chef’ was Lisbon’s first business providing ready meals and has brought its pies into the Market.   When Chef opened in 1977, rock-star chefs were no more than a mirage and you could count the number of read chefs in town on the fingers of one hand (though there were plenty of cooks). Even so ‘Chef – Comida Pronta’ (literally ‘ready food’) has supplied many fine meals to a large swathe of Lisbon for all these years.   Chef, as the city’s first store offering ready meals to take home, opened its doors in Rua Borges Carneiro (in the Lapa neighbourhood), two years after Portugal’s Carnation Revolution, with its founding partners including Helena Corrêa de Barros, a noted photographer and the mother and grand-mother of its current managers.   After some years she ended up in sole charge of the business. After her death, Chef was left to her daughter and current owner, Margarida Vaz Pinto. Today it is her daughters, Sofia Rebelo de Andrade and Marta Ramalho Ortigão, who run the company. And it was they who accepted this invitation to come into the Time Out Market with Chef’s pies.   “Chef is a family company making family food,” is how Rebelo de Andrade puts it. “We have classic dishes such as roast beef, crêpes, pies small and large, bacalhau (salt cod) dishes and a vast range of pastries and sweets. And our clients seeks us out precisely for this comfort food, which they say reminds them of their childhood, their grand-mother, their mother…”   To this new adventure in the Market they have brought only their pies, but all varieties of them: chicken, veal, pork, duck and spinach. They are all made using traditional Alentejo pie pastry (a bit like biscuit crust). You can eat the small ones by hand (at €2.20 each) or on a plate, accompanied by the likes of basmati rice, home-made matchstick chips, green salad and their famous Pink Salad (featuring beetroot, carrot and cabbage with mayonnaise), which was also one of their first ever dishes.   Everything made at Chef is to family recipes that are always being “tested and updated”. They don’t have a chef but several cooks, of whom several have been with the company from the start. Sofia and Marta’s mother – Margarida Vaz Pinto – is also an excellent cook and often contributes recipes for the company.   After less than a week in the Time Out Market they are already whipping up new pie fillings to meet the requests from new clientele. Drop in to sample these new items.