Questions of Taste: Gary Foulkes

Gary Foulkes, head chef of Michelin-starred London fish restaurant Angler, explains why British seafood is the best in the world  

The British have a strange relationship with their island. Separated from the European continent by 20 miles of sea, the concept of Britain as something different and other has done much to define the current political atmosphere. And yet, unless you live near the coast, you could be forgiven for thinking that Britain’s towns and cities are locked within a vast landmass, such is the diminished status of the sea and, in our diets, of fish.

The national preoccupation with meat is something that Michelin-starred chef Gary Foulkes struggles to understand. As the head chef of the fish-dedicated restaurant, Angler, he is naturally convinced of the culinary potential just off our shores – as he tells me, with a certain degree of pride, British fish is among the best in the world. And it’s this passion for local, sustainable and high-quality seafood that is manifest in the food served at Angler, on the top floor of the South Place Hotel in the City of London.

Having taken some time out from preparing the lunch service one morning, Foulkes and I sat down to discuss the seasonality of fish, his life changing round-the-world trip and the world-beating quality of British fish.

What was your earliest memory of food?

My nan was a terrible cook, so my granddad used to do all the cooking – stews and pies mainly. Just tasty, delicious, home-cooked food.

How did you go from there to being a chef?

I’m not sure, really. I got sent on work experience to a hotel and did a day in each department: in the restaurant, with the porters, on reception. My final day of the week was in the kitchen, and I remember everyone enjoying what they were doing. At that age, fifteen, sixteen, it’s all about having a good time, so I thought: “Yeah I’d quite like to get paid to go to work and have a good time.” That’s how it all started.

And then you went to Manchester?

Yes, I worked for Gary Rhodes in Manchester. Rhodes is a fabulous cook, his food is very ingredient-led, and he treats ingredients properly and cooks them properly. That was quite a big thing for me. It’s something I learnt when I was young, and I still think that’s the best thing to do.

You’ve said before that it was at The Square in Mayfair that you really started to understand food. What was it that made you feel that way?

It was the whole ethos of it. It is very seasonal and everything’s based around the ingredients, and cooked correctly. If it wasn’t good enough, it didn’t get used. It’s a huge thing when you see, day in, day out, the passion that goes into producing the dishes, and the work in sourcing the right ingredients for the dishes.

While working at The Square you took some time out to travel – what was the motivation for this?

About a year and a half before I went travelling properly, I took six months out and went to Asia. While I was away I came to the realisation that it wasn’t long enough to do it properly. I came back to London, married my wife, and decided to do some real travelling. We took three years, and off we went.

How did that develop your work as a chef?

You see so many cultures and different ways of life, as a person, and as a chef you see so many ingredients you haven’t seen before, and how people treat those ingredients. You see things and think, “I could use that in my cooking, I quite like that technique.”

What initially drew you to Angler?

I’ve always enjoyed cooking fish and shellfish because fish is so seasonal. There’s so much you can do with it – especially turbot, for instance; you can steam it, you can roast it, you can cure it, you can have it raw, you can serve it on the bone, it’s very versatile. So there’s always something constantly changing. I’m also quite impatient, so if something’s been on the menu for a couple of weeks I feel like I’ve seen enough of it! It’s constantly changing and developing.

Tartare of yellowfin tuna with hass avocado, wasabi and shiso

I didn’t realise fish were so seasonal

It’s really like vegetables or fruit. For instance, red mullet is better when the water’s slightly warmer, so they’re at their very best during the summer. Then when it gets colder in the winter the red mullet will drop off, and you’ll get something like monkfish coming in, because that’s a cold water fish and it’s best in the spring tides when they’ve been feeding. Turbot goes into summer and starts to roe, so it makes the fish a bit smaller and it isn’t as good as it was before. I only use Cornish lobsters, and they’re at their best in the summer, so that’s when I use them – I don’t use lobsters outside of June, July and August.

Has the quality of British fish always been of a standard to serve in Michelin-starred restaurants?

Since I’ve been cooking, yes. I just think that more people are aware of it now. Obviously things like peaches are not going to be as good in Britain as they are in Italy, and you’re never going to grow mangos here, but Britain has some fabulous produce. You go to Orkney and the langoustines and the scallops are the best in the world.

We’re fortunate in that we’re close enough to use it and appreciate it, but I think a lot of it has come from British people being more interested in where their food comes from and how it gets used then they were a decade ago. Today there are farmers markets where you can find produce you’re not going to get in a general supermarket, and foraging has become a big thing, with people getting into wild garlic and elderflower. I think the ingredient quality has always been there, but people are now more aware of it.

What’s next for Angler? Do you have your eye on a second Michelin star, perhaps?

Everyone says: “Oh it would be nice, but I’m not chasing it,” but of course everyone’s going for it, they just don’t want to say. I’d love to get two stars, but I’m fully aware of how much hard work and dedication goes into getting to that point and maintaining it. So we’ve got hard work in front of us but it’s definitely something I’d like to achieve in my career.

Questions of Taste: David Muñoz

David Muñoz, the founder of Madrid’s first three-Michelin star restaurant, discusses his journey to chef superstardom and reflects on opening his latest culinary extravaganza, StreetXO in London’s Mayfair

I’m obsessed with finding flavours that people have never tried before. When I was 12, my parents took me to a nice restaurant in Madrid and I’m not sure why, but I fell in love with it. Most 12 year olds are excited by singers, football players and actors, but my idol was the chef. I wanted to be just like him, and to have a restaurant where people could go to experience something unique.

I began cooking at home with my mum, all the time trying to make different things. They were shit, because I didn’t know how to make delicious food, but I just loved being creative. I spent the next five years around that kitchen, until I went to culinary school. From that first day I knew that cooking was my passion: I wanted to be a chef.

After school, I started to work in restaurants in Madrid, before coming to London in my early 20s – a decision that was the beginning of something much bigger. Being in London was when I first began to see real-life creative food from around the world…I felt as if I’d never even been to a restaurant in my life before I came to Hakkasan [in Hanway Place]. There, I managed to join the pastry section by lying and saying I was a pastry chef. I knew I just had to be in that kitchen, and it blew my mind.

Everything was new to me, and every day working there was a new experience. Seventeen years ago in Spain, we didn’t know what black cod or yuzu was, so to encounter them as a young chef for the first time was unforgettable. I eventually spent two-and-a-half years working there, learning everything I could about all the techniques, ingredients and concepts that make it such a great restaurant. Even now, I still love it, and it was it is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had as a chef. Whenever I think of my career, everything is before and after Hakkasan.

From there I went to work at Nobu for two more years before returning to Madrid in 2007. Even though the menus of both Hakkasan and Nobu were very different, I felt that the experience from the customer’s point of view was very similar, and so I decided then that it was time to create something new.

When I first opened DiverXO 10 years ago, it was a small restaurant with a tiny kitchen. It wasn’t in the centre of Madrid, but I knew that if we made something unique, people would come to us. We were making delicious, honest food that was very different to what was available in the city at that time; especially with our dim sum, plating it in a modern way with contemporary flavour combinations. The people of Madrid used to think that the fine dining experience had to be very serious, calm and polite, but DiverXO from the beginning was more rock and roll. We changed a lot of rules in Madrid, and within three months had a six-month waiting list.

After two years, we finally relocated to a bigger and better location. In the following four years, we were awarded our first, second and third Michelin stars. At the time, just as now, I was just grateful that we had happy customers in a fully booked restaurant that was growing up all the time. The Michelin stars just came. I’m happy to have them of course, but the most important thing is still that the restaurant is full.They are never a promise of success; there are places all over the world that have one or two Michelin stars, but they are not fully booked. We took the accolades as a sign to continue creating something unique, which brought about our second concept, StreetXO, which allowed us to offer our one of a kind experience to even more people in Madrid.

A few years ago the culinary trends in Spain were heavily centred on the Basque country and Barcelona, but the last few years has changed things, and now what’s going on in terms of innovation is happening in Madrid. Places like Triciclo and La Casa, which are all run by young chefs, prove how vibrant Madrid is now and that customers there have changed in their mindset and become more international. This is what I also love about London. I knew that the next restaurant, and the first I opened outside of Spain had to be here as it’s my second home.

Pekinese dumplings – Crunchy pig’s ear, strawberry hoisin, ali-oil and pickles

The StreetXO here in London is now the 2.0 version of Madrid. Coming here helped us draw on our experience to elevate our concept. The food is that bit more radical and refined – in a way, more risky. What I’ve been learning in London has been travelling with me in my notebook back to Madrid; when we were thinking about opening in London we didn’t want to make something for Londoners, we wanted to make something new that would blow people’s minds.

The London customer is very open minded. People think the diversity of cuisines on offer makes it an easy city to establish a food business, but it’s not…it’s a tough city. Londoners ‘travel around the world’ while inside the city, and they have so many options. 

When we first opened in London we reinvented our chilli crab dish three times in the space of three months, each one being better than the last. Whilst being reminiscent of a Singaporean dish which is served with Mantou bread, we braise our king crab with tomato and chipotle chilli, and serve it with a butter emulsion made with Basque Txakoli wine. Instead of bread, we accompany the dish with a soft shell crab, which itself has been marinated in the flavours of Andalusia. Presented in the crab’s head, it’s very fun-looking and tastes like nothing you’ve ever eaten before. We took some risks but I think so far the people like it, and they agree that it is unique and powerful.

People refer to my food as fusion, but that is not unique or creative to me. I’m not mixing two things to achieve a third, and it doesn’t matter where you’re from – you won’t find the taste of your homeland here. It’s true that inspiration comes from all around the world, but we don’t do things as you’d expect; we have a wok in the kitchen, but we don’t use it like a Chinese chef would.

To be successful, I have learned that you must take risks. But with risky flavours there’s a thin line between success and disaster. When you spend 100 per cent of your time being risky and have a high success rate, you can become unique. Maybe for me, the next step will be for a StreetXO in New York, but I’m not in a hurry. I don’t want to stop, but I don’t want to run too fast.

The most important thing to achieve as a chef is taste, that is my priority. From there you can work on providing an experience to compliment it. I want people to get a spoon, put it in their mouths and say “wow, this is delicious”. That’s what I always want to achieve. I’m trying to make people happy, it’s the reason I cook.

Street XO by David Muñoz is located at 15 Old Burlington St, Mayfair, London W1S

Interview by Drew Whittam. 

Questions of Taste: Mathieu Pacaud

The son of three-Michelin star chef Bernard Pacaud chats to PORT about reviving an iconic French eatery under his father’s guidance

Mathieu Pacaud
Mathieu Pacaud

Mathieu Pacaud was just 15 years old when he started to learn the strict discipline of the haute cuisine. Despite being so young, he was fortunate enough to gain a place at the respected restaurant Le Jamin in Reims, France, under the watchful command of esteemed Benoit Guichard – once labelled ‘the world’s best chef’, by the French Government at the time.

Pacaud took this experience with him and embarked on a seven-year stint at the three-Michelin star L’Ambroisie. It was here where he really forged his reputation, working his way up to reach the position of Chef, giving him the privilege of working alongside his father, the venerable Bernard Pacaud.

Today, Mathieu is one of the masterminds behind the rebirth of historic restaurant Le Divellec (reborn as simply Divellec). Here, we chat with Pacaud about Divellec’s novel menu, reinventing French cuisine, and bringing the traditional atmosphere of L’Ambrosie to Asia.

Inside Divellec, Paris
Inside Divellec, Paris

You started your career at age 15. What do you recall from that early beginning and the key lessons you learned?

My father sent me to the restaurant Le Jamin thinking I needed to be confronted with a tough experience, as I was bored and unruly at school. It was a tough experience indeed, but I loved every bit of it, maybe because of the adrenaline you have when you are part of a brigade, or maybe because I felt that it was changing me for the better.

I learnt my first recipes and techniques a LeJamin. But, more importantly, I learnt the importance of being organised, of keeping my area spotless, of obeying to the chef, which are the first essential steps of learning the job.

What drove you to move to Beirut at the age of 20?

I felt that it was time for me to go abroad, I had the urge for living a new experience. I wanted to taste foods and dishes I had never heard about…I wanted to hear a language I did not understand. Beirut seemed far from anything I had known before: it was both exotic and unusual.


What have you learned working alongside your father, the laureled chef Bernard Pacaud, at L’Ambroisie?

It’s not easy to work in the restaurant of your father, especially when the place is considered to be an institution. My father was aware of that and he wanted me to earn the respect of the other brigade members, so he placed me at the bottom of the ladder. It took me seven years to work my way up and to reach the position of chef alongside my father.

During this time, I learnt the pillars of French cuisine: how to make a proper jus de viande, how to get the seasoning right, or why it is just impossible to do three-Michelin star cuisine without exceptional products. I think there is no better place than L’Ambroisie, and no better chef than Bernard Pacaud to understand the importance of such knowledge. They both embody the respect for French cuisine and the respect for the best products.


Right: John Dory with mace, shells and razor clams mariner. Left: Lobster fricassee with pumpkin, FRICASSÉE WITH PUMPKIN, Devilled style sauce.
Left: John Dory with mace, shells and razor clams mariner – Right: Lobster fricassee with pumpkin, FRICASSÉE WITH PUMPKIN, Devilled style sauce.


Le Divellec is one of the most famous seafood restaurants in Paris. How does it feel to be part of the reopening of a place with such a decorated history and role in French cuisine?

It is really a privilege to be part of the second birth of such an institution. Aside the political legend that the restaurant embodies, we also have to remember that Jacques Le Divellec was a leader and precursor in his field – he was the first chef to serve carpaccio and ceviche in Paris, for instance. I would like Le Divellec to keep this leading role in the reinvention of French cooking.

What was the process of transforming Le Divellec into a contemporary restaurant and the thinking behind it?

We wanted to bring something new and reinterpret the whole concept. At Divellec today, vegetables are as central to the menu as seafood is, as it is a part of my personal cooking style.

We are very lucky to have our vegetables grown and delivered directly from the gardens of our summer restaurant in Corsica, located in the world-class Domaine de Murtoli estate. We also wanted the restaurant to be more contemporary and relaxed, which is why we tried to decorate it as an architect would decorate his own apartment.

Mathieu Pacaud (left) and members of his team
Mathieu Pacaud (left) and members of his team


Le Divellec’s menu is a co-creation with your father. How did you both contribute?

We really worked together on the menu. It would have been a disaster to have some dishes created by my father on one side, and some dishes created by me on the other side. We knew we had the same priorities, which was to source amazing products, to do our best to sublimate them and to give them a modern twist.

What is your favourite dish on the menu?

We have recently added to the menu a salmon-based dish – sorrel salmon, Paimpol beans and Mostarda di Cremona – that I think reflects the spirit of our restaurant perfectly well. The sorrel gives a traditional touch, as it is a combination of flavours that has been working well in the kitchen for decades, while the Mostarda di Cremona and Paimpol beans provides a sense of novelty and completeness in the flavours. We have been working a lot on this dish to try and find the perfect way to cook it.

Right: Egg marquise, white truffle and cep fan, Divellec version. Left: Sole blanc  - mange glazed with arlay wine, golden caviar.
Left: Egg marquise, white truffle and cep fan, Divellec version. Right: Sole blancmange glazed with arlay wine, golden caviar.


You are also planning to duplicate L’Ambroisie in Macau, Asia, inside The 13 hotel. How do you plan to adapt the traditional atmosphere of L’Ambroisie to a hotel-casino?

Our goal is to present the guests with the possibility to be transported to Paris for lunch, or a dinner. We have asked our suppliers to recreate the same plates, cutleries, glasses. The executive chef and the restaurant manager of L’Ambroisie Macau have worked for several years at L’Ambroisie Paris and are familiar with the atmosphere we want to create. Our goal is truly to recreate the experience one could have in Paris.  


Questions of Taste: Hans Neuner

Two Michelin-starred chef Hans Neuner lets PORT into his kitchen at Ocean restaurant in Portugal, for a chat about using local produce, cooking around the world, and why the Internet is a threat to fine dining

Hans Neuner, executive chef at Ocean restaurant, Algarve, Portugal – Photo: Paulo Barata
Hans Neuner, executive chef at Ocean restaurant, Algarve, Portugal – Photo: Paulo Barata

‘Excellent cooking, worth a detour’ is the official description given to restaurants awarded two stars in the coveted Michelin guide. In the case of Ocean, located in a remote area of the Algarve, this couldn’t be more apt. Set in Vila Vita Parc, a five-star resort spanning 54 acres on Portugal’s southern coast, Ocean pulls in gastronomes from far and wide, who come for its seasonally-driven menu and, as the name hints, a spectacular view over the Atlantic.

Since 2007, the kitchen has been led by Austrian-born Hans Neuner. Named the country’s ‘Chef of the Year’ in 2009 and 2012, he helped the restaurant earn its first Michelin star in 2009, followed by a second in 2011. Awards and honours aside, Neuner’s real interest lies in raising the standards of haute cuisine in Portugal, and, with a wealth of experience behind him, he appears to be doing just that.

Ocean restaurant, Vila Vita Parc, overlooks the Atlantic – Photo: Vasco Celio
Ocean restaurant, Vila Vita Parc, overlooks the Atlantic – Photo: Vasco Celio

The 40-year-old cut his teeth at Berlin’s prestigious Adlon Hotel, where he worked for nine years under the direction of leading German chef Karlheinz Hauser, forming a key part of a team that gained two Michelin stars. A firm believer in the importance of training in kitchens around the world, he has also cooked at Tristan Restaurant in Mallorca (two stars), Seven Seas restaurant in Hamburg (one star) and The Grill at The Dorchester in London, as well as a brief stint in Bermuda.

The son and grandson of cooks, a career in food was almost unavoidable for Neuner, but it’s his enthusiasm for local produce and ability to create contemporary dishes based on traditional recipes that sets him apart. Here, we sit down with him at the chef’s table in the newly revamped Ocean to discuss his career, travelling the world to eat, and why it takes more than culinary skills to become a top chef.

Violet shrimp, shellfish chips, shellfish mayonnaise, fake and real beluga lentils, lentil powder, Ras-el-hanout dates, salad leaves, apple and coriander oil – Photo: Paulo Barata
Violet shrimp, shellfish chips, shellfish mayonnaise, fake and real beluga lentils, lentil powder, Ras-el-hanout dates, salad leaves, apple and coriander oil – Photo: Paulo Barata

Where does your interest in food stem from?

I started out in a Tyrolean gastronomic family. My parents and my grandparents own restaurants in a ski area in Austria. That’s where I was raised and that’s where I first became interested in cooking; I grew up in kitchens, so it was normal to work in one. My Mum’s a chef, my brother’s a chef, my father’s a chef, my grandfather and my grandmother… I didn’t have any choice. I didn’t even think about doing anything else.

When did you start to take cooking seriously?

I started very young – at 14 I stopped school and started cooking. I learned with my parents, but then I had to do some training in Austria. You need to train. Sooner or later you develop your own style of cooking anyway, but you need someone to guide you through in order to become a chef one day.

“Alheira” puree, paprika, green salad leaves, coriander mayonnaise – Photo: Paulo Barata
“Alheira” puree, paprika, green salad leaves, coriander mayonnaise – Photo: Paulo Barata

What did this training in Austria teach you?

I learned that many talented chefs never make it to becoming a chef because, although the cooking is very important, it’s not just the cooking. If you’re not mentally strong, you can be the best chef in your kitchen, but you’re never going to make it to be the chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant.

What did you do after you finished your training?

I worked at the Dorchester in London for some time, when I was 19. I really enjoyed London, it’s a great city and, for me on, it’s one of the coolest cities in Europe. I went there for a year, saw what to do, and after that I went to Bermuda because I wanted to live on an island for a while. Like many chefs, I moved around until I found the place to stay and tried to grow my name.

Natural coral on the wall at Ocean restaurant– Photo: Vasco Celio
Natural coral on the wall at Ocean restaurant – Photo: Vasco Celio

Can you tell us about your time working under Karlheinz Hauser, who became a mentor to you?

I loved it. He’s part of the first two-Michelin star generation in German-speaking areas of the Continent. He made one of the first two-star restaurants in Germany and that’s where I learned. We’d opened Adlon Hotel up in 1997, but at that time we really just had the main restaurant, nothing else. Berlin was completely destroyed…you had East Berlin and all that, and then the Wall broke and then they started to build up old traditional places. So we built up the Adlon Hotel’s restaurant.

After I left we had six or seven restaurants, it grew crazily. In the end we had about 120 chefs, and we started with just 16.

You joined Ocean in 2007, before going on to win your first Michelin star two years later. What were the key changes you made when you arrived?

When you start up your own restaurant you cook what you learnt before and don’t do that much experimentation. You cook what you were used to in the other two or three-star restaurants, and it’s after that that you succeed.

Now at Ocean, we’re cooking completely weird things – nothing you see in other restaurants anymore. In the beginning you’re kind of insecure, everyone is, but you get braver. That’s why you experiment all over the world and in the top restaurants, so you can get a knowledge of what is perfect and what is supposed to be. We have our own style at Ocean. We’re very seafood orientated, but I think we’re doing some fancy food too.

Left: fried cuttlefish popcorn, cress leaves, capers gel and paprika aioli – Right: langoustine, sweet corn mousse and puree, ”chouriço” foam, nasturtium leaves and salty lemon – Photo: Vasco Celio
Left: fried cuttlefish popcorn, cress leaves, capers gel and paprika aioli – Right: langoustine, sweet corn mousse and puree, “chouriço” foam, nasturtium leaves and salty lemon – Photo: Vasco Celio

What’s been key in carving out an identity for the cuisine at Ocean?

The product is really the main thing. If you look our artichokes, for example, they are all grown locally for us by a biological farmer around the corner. These little things you need to grow specially because you can’t find that quality in the supermarket, where every artichoke looks the same and doesn’t really have a lot of taste. That’s really what we are trying to change: it makes a difference.

Have you ever considered returning to Austria and setting up shop there?

No, not at the moment. I do not want to do fine dining on my own. It’s too risky. To do that, I’d have to start doing books and television, to support my own restaurants. There are not many high-end Michelin starred restaurants who are making a good profit. Maybe in London, Paris and Tokyo, but as for everything outside…In this business a lot of Michelin-starred restaurants are in hotels and they get supported by them. It makes it easier. Your head is more free because you don’t have to worry so much about cost and all those things, you can really just think about the cooking. It’s a real bonus – I’m very lucky!

Hans Neuner preparing food in the Michelin-starred Fortaleza do Guincho during 'Night of the Stars' culinary tour – Photo: Guerrilla Food Photography
Hans Neuner preparing food in the Michelin-starred Fortaleza do Guincho during ‘Night of the Stars’ culinary tour – Photo: Guerrilla Food Photography

What’s your relationship like with local chefs?

Some chefs will call us for information on our suppliers and vice versa – in Portugal they are quite open about that. For example, the contact for our artichokes I got from a different chef who works nearby.

I would say in Germany, where I worked before, I don’t think anybody would do that. They keep it just for themselves, and in London it’s the same. The more competition you have, the more people get greedy about their things. You want to be known for your products… it’s normal. The product changes the dishes, changes the flavour, changes everything we do. Everything.

What can you tell us about your current team?

We promote people to be sous chefs who have worked with me for a while. The guy coming up now as a sous chef has worked with me for five years, so he knows what I want. He knows my style and he knows the products I like. I normally don’t recruit from outside; I would always try to grow from inside, because you really get to know each other.

Photo: Vasco Celio
Photo: Vasco Celio

Where do you eat when you’re elsewhere in Europe?

Every year, we close Ocean for two or three months, then I really travel all over Europe to eat. We do a gastronomic event here every two years, where we invite chefs from all over the world to come and cook together. Then, in my time off, I try and visit those chefs at their places.

This year I’m keen to invite chefs over from South America, because everyone talks about food in Peru and Chile. There are so many good chefs all over the world and, now with the Internet, everybody sees everything. When I started cooking we didn’t have Internet, so I had to go to restaurants and ask if I could have the chef’s details. Nowadays, a lot of youngsters who don’t know how to cook just copy top chefs around the world. The Internet takes part of the fun out of it.

What do you think stands out in Ocean’s menu?

We have the limpets, the calamari that looks like popcorn, and the sea snails, which we get every day from a hundred meters down there [Neuner points to the coastline that Ocean restaurants overlooks], we just need to scratch them off. You can’t get fresher than that.

In Austria we eat a lot of blood sausage, so here at the restaurant we serve little squid stuffed with black pudding in a very nice cataplana – it’s really Algarvian. We also do an old Portuguese-Brazilian dish called feijoada. When the Portuguese conquered the world a few hundred years ago, they brought this bean stew containing everything from the bull. They just threw the whole thing in there – even the ears – and cooked it down. We mostly take just the sauces from these old classic things and then add some other ingredients so that it’s not too rustic.

Mieral pigeon, duck liver, blueberries, shiso, beetroot in three colours and jus – Photo: Paulo Barata
Mieral pigeon, duck liver, blueberries, shiso, beetroot in three colours and jus – Photo: Paulo Barata

How would you describe the atmosphere you’re trying to create here? What kind of palate are you catering to?

Not too ‘fine dining’… we don’t have a stiff atmosphere, we don’t need to wear ties, we don’t have a fancy dress code. You can really come in sneakers and jeans! We try to keep it more casual or simple, because people shouldn’t be afraid to come. People should eat and have a good time.

We are not one of these old classic two-star restaurants… we’re not about that. We try and make Ocean a place for 2016. We offer the same quality and service, but not so uptight. I want our diners to experience some really traditional Portuguese food brought into our times. At the end of the day if you want to experience some really kick-ass Portuguese dishes, you have to come to our place.

What’s next for you and for Ocean?

In 2007 I opened up this restaurant and since then we’ve been quite successful. We’re a great team, we received the two stars in just four years, so we’ll keep on going. We’ll keep changing the kitchen and restaurant and will try to get even better.

Ocean restaurant is located in Vila Vita Parc, Rua Anneliese Pohl, Alporchinhos, 8400-450 Porches, Portugal