Carlos Zea, Executive Chef
Pappas Restaurant & Sports Bar Cockeysville
Carlos Zea was born and raised in Ecuador, South America. In this small yet dynamic country, he developed a culinary interest at an early age learning from his mother and grandmother the traditional Ecuadorian ways of cooking using only fresh, wholesome ingredients found at the outdoor markets. In his village of Cuenca, Carlos practiced his fledgling skills on a large number of family and friends. At age 19, God guided him to the USA. He immigrated to New York City with his cousin's sponsorship, and worked with him at a local restaurant. Here Carlos learned the new language and culture and took his innate cooking talents and developed them into prep cook and then line cook. In less than a year, he moved to New Jersey to answer another calling, this time for his Uncle Genaro, a cook at Cafe Italiano, who needed extra help in their busy kitchen. After a five year course in Italian cooking at Cafe Italiano, Carlos eagerly expanded his talents. Uncle Genaro eventually decided to open up his own restaurant, Amarone, and with Carlos' assistance was ready to help him build a fine, family style Italian restaurant located in New Jersey across the river from New York City. Here Carlos developed his independence and leadership, honing his culinary skills by creating unique and delicious Italian and seafood dishes. At age 30, Carlos decided to move to Baltimore in order to be closer to a vast number of relatives who had settled there years before. Carlos began work at a locally famous restaurant in Cockeysville called The York Inn. Over five years, he became indispensable to the owner, rising to the ranks of Sous Chef and then running the kitchen prior to their closing their doors in 2007.
It was then that Pappas Executive Chef Wilson Rodriguez, convinced his cousin Carlos to work at Pappas Restaurant Parkville. Carlos proved to be a blessing to the Pappas family. In less than a year, after working with Wilson and his other cousin Angel Campoverde, Pappas' sous chef, Carlos became Wilson's right-hand-man after Angel moved to South Carolina. Carlos became the new Sous Chef and brought to Pappas his unique cooking flair. Over the next eight years, Carlos raised the bar at Pappas and helped bring Pappas into the forefront of superb dining in the Baltimore area. In 2014, the Pappas Family asked Carlos to open a new Pappas Restaurant & Sports Bar in Cockeysville, which would prove to be his biggest challenge yet. As Executive Chef, Carlos became a beloved leader of 13 cooks and developed the newest Pappas into a destination dining experience famous not only for Pappas crab cakes but a vast assortment of succulent seafood items, steaks and pasta dishes. "I love what I do and add love to the food I create every day. With God's blessings, we have become very successful at Pappas." --Carlos Zea