The award of the first Michelin star, which has now been delivered to three Portuguese restaurants, is seen by chefs as “a continuous pressure” and a “recognition of work”, but also as an incentive to continue because “the sky is the limit”.
For the Portuguese chef Óscar Gonçalves, whose restaurant, G Pousada, in Bragança, was distinguished with the first star (‘cuisine of great fineness, compensates to stop’) in the Michelin Guide Spain and Portugal 2019, the award is the “Nobel Prize in gastronomy “.
“We have put our city on the map for good reasons. The North is becoming desertified and we are the opposite,” said the Portuguese chef after the announcement during the gala of presentation of the Iberian guide, which took place for the first time in Lisbon.
The kitchen of G Pousada is “Transmontana, Portuguese”, with a bet on local and seasonal products, described.
Óscar Gonçalves acknowledged that the distinction for his five-year-old restaurant is “a dream,” but admits he did not expect to receive it “so soon.”
The chef said it was “a greater responsibility still” and “a continuous pressure”, justifying: “What everyone says is that winning, winning, and worst is keeping.”
António Loureiro, from A Cozinha restaurant in Guimarães, won the first star for Minho, expressing “great pride”.
“For those who have ambition, recognition is always important and the work we do goes in some sense. We did not work for this alone, but for customer satisfaction, which is very important. he commented.
Their cuisine is characterized by “working the product of the season, above all else,” he said.
“What the [Michelin Guide] inspectors are looking for is authentic cuisine, with a very good product, preferably local, regional, autochthonous, and creative,” he said.
António Loureiro says he will not change his work: “We will continue to do the work we have been doing. I am aware that we can improve day by day, but I do not think it will change much.”
Pedro Almeida, from the restaurant Midori (Sintra), reached the first star in Portugal for an Asian restaurant.
“We have been able to prove to everyone that one can do things differently from traditional cooking, with a quality like the one done outside,” he said.
As for the future, the Portuguese chef said that the main novelty is that the 25-year-old restaurant is known in Portugal.
“This is going to bring more people, it will make us gain more consistency, that we continue to grow in what we want to do and create ever more exciting projects and increasingly different things from what is done here in Portugal,” he said.
Pedro Almeida describes his kitchen as “much more attentive to detail, much more unique and creative” and believes that he can go further.
“We still have the potential to go much further than this. I would like to say that we can reach the three Michelin stars, but that’s not for me to decide. It’s up to me to work, create, organize a fantastic team that I have, which will make me take the restaurant to other levels, “he said, adding,” Now, the sky is the limit. ”
Besides the first star to these three restaurants, the edition of the Iberian guide of 2019 attributed the second star (‘an exceptional cuisine, worth the detour’) to Alma (Lisbon), by the chef Henrique Sá Pessoa.