Chef Henrique Sá Pessoa

Food for the soul:

Henrique Sá Pessoa

A TV star chef with three books under his belt, Passoa knows all about that secret ingredient

Henrique Sá Pessoa
Henrique Sá Pessoa

Cais da Pedra


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Passoa used to dream of becoming a basketball player. ‘Team building is crucial in a kitchen,’ he says. ‘I was point guard, so I’m used to calling the shots.’

HENRIQUE SA PASSOA was born in 1976 in Oeiras and discovered his love for cooking while on an exchange programme in the USA, where his secret dream was to become a basketball player. Until 1999, he lived in London and worked at the Park Lane Hotel. He then moved to Sydney, Australia, to work at the Sheraton on the Park during the 2000 Olympics. Two years later, he returned to Portugal, and, over the following years, he worked variously at the Lapa Palace in Lisbon, Restaurant Syrup in Cascais, La Villa in Estoril and the Bairro Alto Hotel in Lisbon.

In 2005, he was named ‘Best Chef of the Year’ in the most prestigious cooking contest in Portugal and, in 2007, he was awarded the Horexpo Cup. That same year marked the publication of his first book, Entre Pratos (Among Dishes), which brought together all of the recipes from the first series of his television show of the same name, aired on RTP2. A second book followed a year later, and he also won the Chef of the Year Award from the Academy of Portuguese Gastronomy. To date, Passoa has three books to his name.

In February 2009, he opened his first restaurant, Alma, which won Wine magazine’s Restaurant of the Year award. In 2013, he opened Cais da Pedra, also in Lisbon.

Passoa’s current television show, Secret Ingredient, now in its fourth season, has proved to be a real success, airing every Saturday and providing viewers with tips and tricks for the kitchen. He has also starred in Chef’s Academy