José Avillez. The Belcanto Restaurant and the other pearls of the chef who is redesigning Portuguese cuisine.
We’d like to talk about a chef, a star, an human history very rare and original: Jose Avillez, from Portugal. José Avillez graduated in Business Communication at Instituto Superior de Comunicação Empresarial with a thesis on the image and identity of Portuguese gastronomy. It seems that this thesis threw the roots of what Jose now it is. Fortaleza do Guincho restaurant, in Cascais has been his school, his kindergarten. Then was time to improve in the kitchen of José Bento dos Santos, Portugal’s most eminent gastronome, at Quinta do Monte d’Oiro, and took private study lessons with Maria de Lourdes Modesto, the “mother” of Portuguese traditional cooking. As a lot of chef did, Jose went in the Mecca of haute cuisine, the France, with Alain Ducasse and Éric Fréchon. But is the experience in the El Bulli of Ferran Adrià that built the bones of Jose Avillez.
Now he is the owner of 20 restaurant with 600 employees and is considered the most important chef of Portugal, a nation with strong gastronomy foundation. Belcanto, his first restaurant, is focused on haute portugaise cuisine and has been the forerunner of Jose career that exploded in other 19 restaurants in Portugal and abroad: Café Lisboa in Largo de São Carlos, Bairro do Avillez, in Chiado, Tasca Chic, with Portuguese traditional flavours, Jacaré, a vegetarian carnivore, and Barra Cascabel, with Mexican flavours, in a partnership with chef Roberto Ruiz: these are some of the restaurants – we don’t want to bore you with a long list of name – but we’d like to guide you to discover what is the style of Jose in the kitchen.
The point of view of Jose is the tradition of Portugal, always alive in his dish. He rereads the culinary tradition and the forgotten dishes and bring them to the modern age, to us. Equilibrium of flavours, of consistence, of taste and shape are the key to understand his creations that he considers “food for soul”. You can find the portuguese foundations in a dish made of “stone” of codfish with chickpeas, chestnuts and black truffle; or homemade bread with smoked rosmarine butter, tomatoes and sausage; or shrimps served with corn semolina: an explosion of ocean flavours with a rustic food of the tradition and the countryside. I know an article is not so good to bring the emotions that a chef’s creation can give but we try to switch on the light of the curiosity. Then you’ll run to Portugal to taste Jose Avillez’s food that, thanks also to the work of Jose, Lisbon is a culinary stop that nobody should never miss.
R. Serpa Pinto 10A, 1200-026 Lisboa, Portogallo
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