Portuguese-only Michelin gala

Algarve to host first Portuguese-only Michelin gala

Portugal is finally getting its own Michelin Guide!

The Algarve has been chosen to host the first exclusively Portuguese Michelin gala.

The event will take place at NAU Salgados Palace & Congress Centre in Guia, Albufeira on February 27, 2024 and will mark the launch of the first Michelin Guide dedicated solely to Portuguese restaurants.

Around 500 guests are expected for the gala event, said Portugal’s Michelin Guide representative Nuno Ferreira at a press conference held at the Algarve Hotel and Tourism School in Faro this Friday (June 2).

Algarve chef Rui Silvestre, who has one Michelin star for his work at Vistas in Vila Nova de Cacela, and two-Michelin starred chef Dieter Koschina, from Vila Joya Restaurant in Albufeira, have been confirmed as the “gastronomic coordinators” of the event.

“They will oversee the dinner, which will be prepared by a broader selection of chefs from the Michelin Guide in the Algarve. This selection will be made by the guide’s group of inspectors and communicated a few months before the ceremony in an event dedicated to that purpose,” said Nuno Ferreira.

“Each chef, with their own influences, techniques, inspiration, and personalities, will work with the products that this region provides them, creating dishes that bring happiness to those who taste them,” he added.

This will be the first time that the Michelin Guide has a dedicated edition for Portugal. Since 2009, each edition was presented at an Iberian ceremony, mostly held in a Spanish city, except for 2018 when Lisbon hosted the event. In 2022, the chosen city was Toledo, Spain.

“We believe in the potential for the current development of the Portuguese gastronomic scene and we want to contribute to positioning Portugal internationally, with dedicated time and focus on the Portuguese culinary identity,” Ferreira stated.

National and regional tourism authorities supported the idea from the start, the representative said, adding that they believe the Michelin Guide can act as a “partner” in the promotion of national and regional gastronomy and wine.

This region is very well-known for its climate, beaches and natural beauty. But its gastronomy is also an excellent calling card,” he said, stressing particularly the Algarve’s famous fish and seafood.

“We will work diligently to make this ceremony a very special and relevant event for the region and the country,” said Ferreira, adding that the “combination of the strengths of this region” with the “international recognition of the Michelin Guide” is a “recipe that enhances the positioning of the Algarve’s gastronomic identity as a destination and an economic value generator.”

Chef Rui Silvestre also praised the initiative, stating that he hopes it will lead to more gastronomic events in the Algarve, “not only in the summer, but all-year-long in order to bolster the regional economy.”

Meanwhile, Algarve tourism chief João Fernandes said that the Algarve is a “fair choice” to host Portugal’s first exclusive Michelin gala, thanks to its traditional cuisine all the way to fine dining and Michelin-starred restaurants.

“It is also an opportunity to promote the destination, which already enjoys great notoriety,” said Fernandes, stressing that the event will attract around 150 chefs and several gastronomy critics, culinary enthusiasts and members of the media.

Fernandes also highlighted that the Algarve tourism board (RTA) has long been involved in the development of gastronomy guides, regional wine guides, as well as capacity-building initiatives.

The board also organises programs such as Algarve Cooking Vacations and the recent project Algarve Craft & Food, which combines craftsmanship with gastronomy and the Mediterranean diet – recognised as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.

The tourism boss also mentioned some of the Algarve’s top gastronomic events, such as the Sardine Festival in Portimão, Seafood Festival in Olhão, ‘Caldeirada’ and Sea Festival in Armação de Pêra, Orange Fair in Silves and the region-wide Tapas Route (Rota do Petisco).

Fernandes also praised the work that has been carried out at hotel and tourism schools in the Algarve.

It is no coincidence that we have eight out of the 38 Michelin-starred restaurants in Portugal, with two of the seven two-starred restaurants located in the Algarve. It is a long-standing effort that involves a series of investments, which contribute to the region’s outstanding quality,” the RTA boss said.

“We have indeed accomplished significant work that has brought us to a successful position today,” he added.

Luís Araújo, president of national tourism authority Turismo de Portugal, also highlighted the strides that Portugal has taken which justify the launch of an exclusively Portuguese guide.

“Gastronomy and wines were included in 2017 as one of the top 10 assets for enhancing Portugal as a destination in the 2027 strategy. Tourists who visit us often mention that what surprised them the most is the friendliness of the people and the gastronomy,” he said.

As a result, the volume of searches for Portuguese gastronomy has increased by 26%, he explained.

“The time has come for us to go from being known only (for our gastronomy) after the visit to it being the reason for choosing the trip. And this partnership with Michelin will help us position our gastronomy, both traditional and innovative, at a higher level and in a different dimension,” Araújo said.

He also addressed the option to host the gala in the Algarve, stating that it is “one of the main regions in the country” and also acts as “recognition of the role that Algarve’s chefs have played in promoting our gastronomy.

“Today is just the beginning. We have a series of events scheduled until February. We have a campaign prepared to promote our gastronomy, especially internationally,” he said.

Araújo added that Turismo de Portugal has set aside a budget of €700,000 exclusively to invest in the gastronomy sector during 2023-24.

Portugal received 45 Michelin stars in the Spanish and Portuguese edition of the 2023 Michelin Guide, with all the new Michelin-starred restaurants being located in Lisbon (Encanto, Kabuki Lisboa and Kanazawa) and Porto (Euskalduna Studio and Le Monument).

In the Algarve, Ocean (Porches) and Vila Joya (Albufeira) maintained their two-star status, while Vistas (Vila Nova de Cacela), Vista (Portimão), Bon Bon (Carvoeiro), Gusto by Heinz Beck (Almancil), Al Sud Palmares (Lagos) and A Ver Tavira (Tavira) held onto their one star.

By Michael Bruxo

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