Roots and traditions:
A loyal Lisbon chef, João Rodrigues’ kitchen is a celebration of the bygone days of Portuguese travel and discovery.
Rodrigues never travels without a Moleskine and a pen for taking notes
JOÃO RODRIGUES (b. 1977) has been executive head chef at the one Michelin starred Feitoria Restaurant in the Altis Belém Hotel & Spa, Lisbon, since 2009, having worked his way up the ladder from executive sous chef. While working towards his degree in Culinary Arts at the Lisbon Hotel and Tourism School, he undertook work placements at both the Sheraton and the Ritz Hotels, as well as working part-time at the Lisboa Plaza Hotel. After graduating, he spent three years working at the Bica do Sapato restaurant before returning to the Ritz to work alongside Sebastien Grospelter in the Varanda restaurant. He then went on to work with Fausto Airoldi at the Pragma restaurant at the Casino de Lisboa.
In 2007, Rodrigues won the Chef of the Year contest in the major Portuguese professional cooking competition hosted by Edições do Gosto. A year later, his team won two silver medals (hot and cold) in the OAP WACS Mediterranean Gastronomy Culinary Challenge, coordinated by Paulo Pinto and Antonio Bóia.
Inspired by the spirit of the Portuguese explorers of the Golden Age and by the routes which they discovered, Feitoria is a signature cuisine restaurant that blends traditional flavours, Oriental influence and contemporary flair to create elaborate tasting menus. A meal at Feitoria offers a journey across the globe, but, says Rodrigues, ‘our roots and traditions are always present in all the dishes that we create'.
Asked to describe his culinary philosophy, Rodrigues says: ‘I like to use local products from small producers, everything organic, and a strong Portuguese cultural influence with a twist. My cuisine is all very natural in order to keep the flavours the most authentic as possible. In my kitchen, the most important ingredient is the quality of the product.’
The dining experience at Feitoria is further enhanced by the restaurant’s unique location, magnificent river views and spacious, sophisticated and tastefully decorated interior. In 2013, the Altis Belém Hotel & Spa was selected as one of the best hotels in Europe by the European Finest Hotels organisation (EFH), praised especially for its unique and exceptional qualities and the high level of its services.