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Photos: BRUNO FILIPE PIRES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP

Countdown begins for first Portuguese-only Michelin gala in Algarve

A star-studded line-up of seven Algarve chefs will be teaming up to cook the dinner for the Michelin Guide’s first Portuguese-only gala, which will be held at NAU Salgados Palace & Congress Centre in Guia, Albufeira on February 27.

Algarve chef João Oliveira, who has one Michelin star for his work at Vista in Praia da Rocha, Portimão, and two-Michelin starred chef Dieter Koschina, from Vila Joya Restaurant in Albufeira, will be coordinating the team, which also features Hans Neuner (Ocean, Porches), José Lopes (Bon Bon, Carvoeiro), Libório Buonocore (Gusto by Heinz Beck, Quinta do Lago), Louis Anjos (Al Sud, Lagos), and Luís Brito (A Ver Tavira).

The gala, which is expected to be attended by around 500 people, will be streamed live online and will be hosted by Portuguese TV presenters, Catarina Furtado and Fernando Alvim.

However, the gala event will not be the only thing to look forward to, as the Michelin-related festivities will begin a month earlier in Loulé with a special event at the town’s municipal market on Saturday, January 27. Hosted by Luís Brito, the event will see the chef “creating a dish worthy of a Michelin-star” using only the products available at the market.

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Also planned is a debate entitled ‘The value of gastronomy in the tourist experience’, which will take place at Portimão Museum on Tuesday, February 6. Due to take part are Portuguese chefs José Avillez and Marlene Vieira as well as Lídia Monteiro, board member for Portugal’s tourism authority Turismo de Portugal.

A promotional campaign will also be launched under the title of ‘Algarve, the Taste of the South of Europe’, centred on three “fundamental elements that influence Algarvian gastronomy: the mountains, the sea and the estuaries”.

The campaign will be promoted with the help of chefs and celebrities online as well as through “conventional means”.

These announcements were made during a press conference at Loulé’s Solar da Música Nova building on Tuesday, January 16.

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“Today we begin the countdown for the long-awaited night when the Algarve will welcome the country’s most celebrated restaurants and chefs. The dinner aims to highlight and appreciate the richness, quality, and diversity of the region’s gastronomy and the talent of those who prepare it,” said Portugal’s Michelin Guide representative, Nuno Ferreira.

André Gomes, president of the Algarve Tourism Board (RTA), also attended the press conference and thanked the chefs who accepted the challenge of preparing the gala dinner.

“For us, this is another very important moment that highlights gastronomy in our tourism promotion, not only on a regional but also national and international level,” said the tourism boss.

Gomes also hailed the opportunity to showcase “the quality of our local products but also our infrastructures that make the Algarve a tourist destination of excellence”.

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Hosting an event of this magnitude has given the Algarve a boost of “confidence and enthusiasm”, Gomes added, stressing that “it will be a privilege” to host the gala as well as all the culinary experts who will attend it. “We will welcome everyone with our hospitality,” he added.

This will be the first time the Michelin Guide has an exclusive edition for Portugal. Since 2009, each edition was presented in an Iberian ceremony, almost always in a Spanish city, except in 2018 when Lisbon hosted the event. The latest event was held in Toledo, Spain.

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 BRUNO FILIPE PIRES