The chefs of the two Portuguese restaurants that won the first Michelin star a year ago say that the main change is evident in the demand, with a more knowledgeable clientele, but they guarantee that they have kept the concepts of their kitchens.
João Oliveira, the chef of Bela Vista, told that the award of the first star in the Michelin Guide Spain and Portugal 2018 was “a confirmation of the work” he was developing: “It was the icing on the cake, it was good -coming”.
In the last year, the restaurant, housed in the Bela Vista hotel in Praia da Rocha, Portimão, received more Portuguese customers, but the chef noted above all a change in the type of clientele.
“The client already comes with the mentality a little more open, already accepts different experiences, acceptance is already a little different,” he commented.
Asked if the fact of having a Michelin star is felt as “a pressure”, João Oliveira said he has the notion that the team is “evaluated daily, whether or not by inspectors”, and so it has to “give its best” every day.
Reaching the second star of the ‘red guide’ “is not the main goal,” but the chef says he wants to continue to “want to grow and evolve,” pursuing “the same path made so far.” Then, he added, “anything is possible.”
João Oliveira defines his kitchen as a “cuisine of respect for the product” and vary based on the products of the sea – it has a menu of tasting exclusively based on fish, shellfish and bivalves and another compound, mostly by fish. In addition, the chef highlights the concern for sustainability and respect for new trends in food.
“The logic is to respect the sustainability of the sea and the products, to manage the product in the best possible way, not to force the fisherman to go fishing a certain species, but to work with the fish or shellfish that there is at that time”, he said, sought to “take almost 100% gluten, lactose, animal fats and sugar” from the dishes and desserts.
The Italian Daniele Pirillo won the first star for the restaurant Gusto by Heinz Beck in Almancil a year ago, which he received “with surprise and tears”, he told.
The chef says that a year later, the concept did not change: “We saw that the way we were working was the right one. We are continuing our work, with a customer focus, on what he wants. “.
As for the clientele, Daniele Pirillo described that the restaurant started to receive more Portuguese, but above all, “many ‘gourmet’ customers, who come to experience new flavours.”
One of the dishes featured in the Gusto is the ‘fagotelli carbonara’, a kind of ravioli with a liquid filling, a signature dish created by Heinz Beck 25 years ago and attracting customers from all over the world who travel to the Algarve purposefully to experience it.
His kitchen “is very simple,” he commented: “We make Italian dishes with Portuguese products, except for some cheeses like pecorino or parmigiano, which have to be Italian. But we use the meat, all the fish, the extra olive oil -virgin, which is incredible, and Portuguese vegetables. ”
Pirillo refuses that the distinctions of the Michelin Guide are a concern: “If you start thinking a lot about the star, you lose another goal: customers, satisfaction, happiness,” he said.
Do you expect to reach the second star? “No. One is enough for us,” he replied with a smile.