When Solaire Resort Entertainment City flies in Michelin Star chefs for its unprecedented gastronomy series March 16-19, diners are in for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure when they discover the distinctive Portuguese cuisine of Chef Rui Silvestre, the youngest chef of Portugal to earn the Michelin Star.
It’s bound to be the Filipino palate’s introduction to the quality of Portuguese cuisine that has won global accolade—fresh seafood and natural ingredients typical of Algarve, the rich coastline in southern Portugal whose cuisine Chef Silvestre has helped make into a tourism come-on. His restaurant is a few minutes away from the sea.
While Filipinos have grown up to Spanish influences in their native cuisine, in contrast, they have not been exposed regularly to Portuguese cuisine. In an exclusive online interview with TheDiarist.ph, Chef Silvestre notes the close affinity between the Spanish and Portuguese cuisines since they share the geographical richness, notably the Atlantic Ocean.
But what should make Chef Silvestre’s cuisine particularly interesting to local diners is that his will be a blend of Portuguese cuisine with Indian and African influences. That should be something to discover. His grandmother, whom he considers as a crucial influence in his passion for cooking, was born in India. His mother was born in Mozambique.
Therefore, his cuisine is a melting pot of culinary cultures, quite literally—the spices and seafood of Portugal, the curries of India, the aromatic herbs of Africa, and just as interesting, the French techniques he’s been known for.
He says the Carabineiro will have giant prawn and curry—“a tribute to my grandmother who’d cook it for our Sunday meals, curry, chutney, lemon,” he says with palpable enthusiasm that really whets the listener’s appetite.
He will have Lobster, Masala, Black Garlic, Celery Root, offered with three different sauces.
Chef Silvestre will have, in his words, the “hotness of spices and the aroma of herbs,” and in this special occasion, the seafood bounty of the Philippines.
Gourmets hail Chef Silvestre’s strong sensory approach. He combines the flavors of the earth and the sea to appeal to the senses. His cuisine stirs the senses—“the textures, the smell, the different temperatures, and the images….The smell is the first moment of taste,” he says.
Another appeal to Filipino diners is Chef Silvestre’s way of eating with one’s hands. “We touch the food with the hand…. and taste great cuisine with the hand…. I want people to enjoy and eat with our hands.”
Chef Silvestre was born in the north of Portugal, in Valongo, and has been living in Algarve since age 10. He has worked in French, Swiss and Hungarian restaurants. In France he was with three-Michelin Star restaurant Le Castellet of Christophe Bacquié.
In 2015 he earned his first Michelin Star, at age 29, becoming the youngest Portuguese chef to win this distinction. He attained his Michelin Star with Bon Bon, a restaurant spanning more than 20 years at Carvoeiro in Algarve.
He’s worked with Michelin Star restaurants in France and in Budapest, in the Costes. But his cuisine is rooted in the fresh ingredients and the bounties of the sea wherever he is. In Manila, he will explore the native resources—no ingredients will be imported.
His passion for cooking goes back to his childhood. “I love to eat,” he says. “From school I go straight to the kitchen,” he recalls. Meals shared with his big family comprise the fond memory of growing up.
His grandmother became his first inspiration in the culinary. “I can’t do curry as well as she does,” says this Michelin Star chef who continues to hold his grandmother’s cooking way up there.
If his grandmother is his source of inspiration, his Michelin Star, he says, is not a source of pressure, but a source of passion.
He’s looking forward to the Solaire gastronomy offering that will be a balanced menu of various dishes created by the other Michelin Star chefs that Solaire has invited to highlight its 10th year anniversary celebration. Joining Chef Silvestre are other icons: Michelin Star Chefs Tohru Nakamura, Enrico Bartolini, Alvin Leung, Rene Frank, who will be joined by wine and spirits experts.
The series will be at Solaire’s top restaurants.
It is touching how Chef Rui Silvestre harks back to his ties of origin even as he is at the apex of his career. He says, “I want to be able to cook for guests the way my grandmother cooks for her family.”
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