Chef Alexandre Silva is the Portuguese culinary expert on 196 flavors.
Chef Alexandre Silva’s career began in 2007 as an Executive Chef at the Bocca restaurant, but quickly became known as the winner of the first professional chef’s competition in Portugal – Top Chef. After a season at Martín Berasategui, he returned to Portugal and worked as an Executive Chef in several restaurants until 2014, when he opened his first business at Mercado da Ribeira. At the end of 2015, he opens LOCO, his Michelin Stared Restaurant and develops the R&D project – an experimental laboratory where it develops new techniques, tests new products and produces new creations.
Can you tell us more about yourself?
I was born in a small village in Portugal, in Abrigada. And, when I decided that I wanted to be a chef, my parents did not know what to say – at that time the cuisine in Portugal did not have the scale and the importance it has today. I have two other great passions: photography and music. I was almost following this path of music, but the cuisine called stronger and I am lucky to be able to reconcile with the photography strand.
Tell us more about your knowledge and experience when it comes to Portuguese cuisine.
Portuguese cuisine is history. We were, perhaps, the people who received the most gastronomic influences and who caused more influences to other people, and we are currently able to show the capacity that Portuguese cuisine has in order to continue to evolve and surprise. I grew up in this environment, a more rural environment where everything we consumed was produced by us. This is true Portuguese cuisine.
What makes Portuguese cuisine unique? What differentiates it from other European cuisines?
The main difference is our geographical location. We are lucky to live in a mild weather. We have the land and we have the sea, and we can take advantage of what they both can provide to us.
What is your favorite Portuguese recipe or the most unusual dish of the country?
Arroz de Cabidela, it’s a Portuguese traditional recipe with quite an unusual preparation.
What other cuisines do you like or influence your cuisine?
Which place would you recommend to visit in Portugal?
Viana do Castelo, a city that is located along the Lima river and stands out for its historic center, which forms a circle bounded by the vestiges of the old walls.
Beside your mother or grandmother, what Portuguese chef is a reference for you?
Chef Leonel Pereira. He practices a cuisine with deep roots in regional recipes and so the tradition is one of its main focuses.
What are the main difficulties in Portuguese cuisine?
Finding good vegetables, without any chemical substances.
What would you suggest if you had to prepare a complete Portuguese menu: starter, main course, dessert?
Starter: Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato
Main Course: Arroz de Cabidela