Cooking from the heart
Celebrated chef João Espírito Santo talks to us about his cooking references and what drives him.
The executive chef of the PortoBay in Lisbon, João Espírito Santo, originally from Madeira Island, talks to us about, amongst other things, the importance of teaching children about food quality.
Walk the Talk Magazine: PortoBay is a successful chain of hotels. How can it still deliver originality in its menu?
João Espírito Santo: We work with a seasonal menu and about 80% of the produce we use in our recipes are also seasonal. We try to bring back some classic dishes with an original twist. We aim not to complicate anything and make sure, above all, our guests enjoy our food.
WTTM: Is it important to you to bring your heritage to the food you cook?
JES: I guess every chef brings his or her identity somehow into their food. The fact I am from Madeira Island and grew up in a time that we were more isolated, if compared to the world today, made us more self sufficient, developing recipes that were one hundred percent local with local produce. These are the recipes that form my identity as memories.
WTTM: You think it is important that children get involved in cooking. Do you believe it should be case of schools investing more time and effort in this matter?
JES: Having children in the kitchen and involved with the food making process is a wonderful thing. It is during childhood that tastes develop. I believe schools should make it obligatory for children to learn about food because it is also something that is directly linked to the sense of well being and health. Not to mention the development of their creativity and self sufficiency skills. When a child learns to cook they have to learn Maths, Geography, Science, Chemistry. Cooking can be a wonderful school!
WTTM: What is your favourite dish and dessert?
JES: I have too many to name, but I particularly miss my mum's cooking.
WTTM: What is your tip to eat well?
JES: We should enjoy every meal as if it were the last one, being true to yourself about your taste and what you like to eat. You should treat food and cooking with respect. But above all, the concept of eating well differs to each of us and this should always be taken in to account.
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