A new restaurant called Céu (named after its chef) opened in Faro at the start of February and has already started generating curiosity with its new vision of fine dining, mixing flavours of South America and Asia.
Sky Visser, the 23-year-old head chef, explains the concept behind the venture.
“My mom is Asian, and I grew up in South America. I decided to bring these two worlds together because they are my favourite types of food. Besides, I started working in fine dining as soon as I completed my studies,” said Sky.
While he has a “passion” for the world of fine dining, he admits that it can be “a little pretentious”.
“What I want to do is serve dishes that appear to be fine dining but in good portion sizes. It is a new vision of fine dining, where you enjoy the experience calmly, time with the family and good food – this is quality of life,” he added.
The project started being thought up around two years ago when the young man’s parents moved to Olhão to open their own business.
“I’ve travelled half the world, which allowed me to experience a lot,” said Sky, who decided to move to Faro last August with his 24-year-old Finnish girlfriend Jenni Salli, the restaurant’s maître d’.
“I wanted to be closer to my parents while I’m still young, so I don’t regret it later. I came to see the area and I liked it because it reminds me of Curaçao (the island he was born) and Kenya (where he volunteered).
“What led me to this decision was the quality of life that the Algarve offers, and Faro is the town we identified with the most,” he explained.
Despite their tender ages, the couple has a wealth of experience, having travelled the world. Although he has worked at restaurants in Amsterdam and London with hundreds of people, his parents raised him to value experiences over material possessions, he explained.
“I have never had a Rolex, but I have always been a keen traveller,” he said.
His girlfriend – who has a degree in hotel management – has a similar background. Portugal is the 15th country she has lived in, and she speaks nine languages, five of them fluently.
“I have always travelled a lot and tried to absorb the most of each culture and take advantage of the best from each location,” said Jenni.
The couple is now learning Portuguese as they attempt to establish Céu as a thriving part of Faro’s gastronomic scene.
International flavours, local products
At Céu, every recipe was created by Sky Vesser. Although the recipes are inspired by Asian and South American flavours, every ingredient is fresh and Portuguese and will very soon be “exclusively local”.
“I’m still getting familiar with the best local suppliers, but every product is Portuguese. I’m starting to make some contacts and am in the process of establishing partnerships so that every ingredient is Algarvian,” he explained.
The menu features dishes for everyone, from vegetarians to those suffering from celiac disease.
“We have selected dishes that are very different from everything I’ve seen in Portugal. A restaurant with this fusion of flavours is something I’ve only seen in London,” the owner said. “I also like when there is the option to share meals.”
The starters menu features various appetizing options, from grilled Thai oysters and arepa (a traditional Venezuelan and Colombian dish made of ground maize dough) with shredded pork to a carpaccio of fresh tuna with marinated enoki mushrooms.
Céu’s menu also pays tribute to the sea. Diners can enjoy octopus with carrot purée, seabream with miso aubergine purée, and seabass steamed inside a salt dough, which takes about an hour to be “perfectly cooked” – a technique he learned in England.
Meat lovers can look forward to the filet mignon served with a five-spice sauce, and roasted leg of lamb with rice and plantain chips.
The vegetarian section features tofu marinated in Jamaican jerk seasoning and curry served with coconut rice.
Meanwhile, the wine list includes some of the best wines from all over Portugal, “which, I made sure, would be hard to find at any supermarket or store,” said the chef.
There is also a selection of delicious desserts created by pastry chef Aaron Amoah, who “worked at one of the 10 best pastry shops in London”.
Clients with a sweet tooth can choose from Fusion Cotta (a coconut, vanilla and lime panna cotta); a chef’s speciality called Sky Garden; and Spiced Negus, chocolate layers with spiced cacao and cinnamon ganache.
There is also a selection of blondies, cinnamon buns, chocolate bread, croissants and scones, which can be enjoyed at Céu at any time of the day.
Céu is open between Tuesday and Saturday from midday to 3.30pm, and from 6pm to 11.30pm on Friday and Saturday. It is also open on Sunday from 11am to 3pm.
“Everyone is welcome, whether they’re dressed in a track suit or suit and tie,” concluded Sky Vesser.
Original article written by Maria Simiris for Barlavento newspaper.