The winds are blowing for the restoration in Portugal, which, in one fell swoop, adds five more Michelin-starred spaces to the 28 that already displayed the prestigious symbol of gastronomic excellence attributed by the most famous and prestigious world guide.
The news was announced this Tuesday night in Valencia, Spain, where the cooks of the restaurants Al Sud (Lagos), A Ver Tavira (Tavira), Cura (Lisbon), Esporão (Reguengos de Monsaraz) and Vila Foz (Porto) they went onstage to don the lab coats with the distinctive symbol.
An unprecedented fact, since never in the guide’s centenary history has so much shine illuminated Portuguese cuisine – and not just for five stars at once. Also because they keep all those that came from the previous guide and also because there are also two restaurants – Il Gallo d’Oro and Esporão – received the Michelin Green Star, a new distinction that symbolizes the commitment to sustainable gastronomy.
And, if there is a conclusion to conclude, it is that those responsible for the guide are not only attentive to the new values of Portuguese cuisine, but also to the quality and use of local products, as well as respect for seasonality in restaurant menus.
A trend that was sent to Gwendal Poullennec, the international director of the Michelin guides, who in her opening speech wanted to highlight that “many young talents have emerged in Portugal and Spain who defend their innovative and diversified gastronomic concepts”.
The top responsible for the guides also referred to “A basic tendency to make the most of local products and traditions with a kitchen more concerned with the issues of the environment and sustainability”, a movement Michelin welcomes and wants to support”. And, for good understanding, the message could not be clearer.
This even seems evident in the choices of the new stars, who – exclusively by Luís Brito, from A Ver Tavira – above all they consecrate cooks of the new generations. And all with concepts clearly committed to local products and seasonality. Also for the quality and availability of the product – particularly fish and seafood, these are winds that seem to blow in favor of our cuisine and traditions.
It is true, some will say, that has not yet reached such desirable star star, or the addition of another one or two starry seconds, which is already justified. But not even that can elude the conclusion that this is a favorably new moment for national restaurants and gastronomy.
And if Arnaldo Azevedo (Vila Foz), Carlos Teixeira (Esporão), Luís Brito (A Ver Tavira) and Pedro Pena Bastos (Cura) are the new stars, they are also joined José Lopes, who kept the star in the Algarve Bon Bon (Carvoeiro) which he inherited from Louis Anjos, who left precisely to embrace the Al Sud project.
Looking at the new five stars, the choices seem to let inspectors also understand a more flexible and less conservative posture. The fact is that, of the five restaurants, two have only been in operation for about a year, contrary to the historical demand for constant consistency in the elegant of the stars. However, both Louis Anjos and Pedro Pena Bastos had been scrutinized for a long time.
In the case of the first one, with the star at Bon Bon, as for Pena Bastos, there was even the conviction that the guide had already assigned her the star at the time when the concept of the Herdade do Esporão restaurant began. As it had left in the meantime, this will now be a sort of settling of scores that enshrines dedication and innovative work based on local and seasonal products.
Not much different will be the perspective in relation to Arnaldo Azevedo who, although young, has a path behind him that will not be alien to the inspectors. Since the time that S. Gabriel, in Almancil, to the Stage, at the Hotel Teatro, in Porto, from where he jumped to start with this restaurant in the refined hotel in Foz do Douro.
In a year that reached the number of 33 Michelin-starred restaurants – seven of them with two – and which confirms Portugal as a gastronomic destination privileged by its products and traditions, the guide adds two more distinctions with Bib Gourmand. Symbol of an excellent relationship between the cuisine it supports and the cost of treatment, it is even said that it is the restaurants that inspectors choose when they want to go with their family and they pay the bill.
In Lisbon, in the Santos area, Arche has a cuisine focused on vegetable products and seasonality, while in Setúbal, Xtória uses good local products, especially fish, for exquisitely executed proposals. They also choose if they seem to show up as new guidelines for inspectors.
As for Spain, this is a year in which there is nothing new in the field of three stars, which are maintained in 11 restaurants, while four ascend to the two-star club: they are Amelia de Paulo Airaudo (S. Sebastiaán), Voro ( on the island of Mallorca), Smoked Room (Madrid) and Iván Cerdeño (Toledo). Altogether there are already 33, while the restaurants with one star now rise to 185 with the 28 new products now marked.
In addition to the consecration of the restaurants, the Michelin Guide for Portugal and Spain also launches in this edition 0 Michelin Prize for Young People chefs, awarded to Mario Cachinero, of the Skina restaurant (Marbella), and the Michelin Prize Chef Mentor who was given to Martin Berasategui.