Portugal gets some respect from Michelin – sort of

Restaurant watchers were tuned in to last night’s awards ceremony, held in Toledo, Spain, but for people who care about Portuguese food, the best news came early into the night: from next year, Portugal will get the respect it deserves, with a guide, a list and a ceremony that recognizes this creative corner of Europe as a culinary destination in its own right.

This is big news for a country that currently accounts for around 20% of the restaurants listed in the Iberian Guide, and expects this newfound attention to translate into more Bib Gourmand stars and selections.

In a press release (which I am translating), Luís Araújo, the president of Turismo de Portugal, said: “This ‘conquest’ proves something that we have been defending for a long time and which is the gastronomic value of the country” , citing “its intrinsic and distinctive qualities, innovation and modernity, and the value it brings to the tourist experience.

As for last night’s ceremony, Portugal started strong. Ricardo Costa, the chef of the two-star Yeatman in Porto, announced the five new one-star restaurants in the country. These were the new Encanto by José Avillez and João Diogo, the very deserving Eskalduna Studio by Vasco Coelho Santos, Japanese Kabuki with Mediterranean accents (part of a Spanish brand) by Paulo Alves, the temple of sushi Kanazawa by Paulo Morais and Le Monument du chef Julien Montbabut.

Chef Diogo Rocha of Mesa de Lemos received a green star for his commitment to sustainable practices and also retained his current regular star. It is the third restaurant in the country to receive this distinction, after Esporão by Carlos Teixeira and Il Gallo d’Oro by Benoît Sinthon.

Another good news, no one has lost a star. But that’s where the celebration of Portugal ended, with no Portuguese restaurant earning a second or third star, despite some hopes and heightened expectations. (In Spain, the big news was that Atrio in Cáceres and Cocina Hermanos Torres in Barcelona each received a well-deserved third star.)

And while chefs and restaurateurs around the Michelin world gratefully acknowledged their upheld stars and Bib Gourmand designations (and their PR teams busied themselves sending out press releases), a few more opinionated cooks — those whose restaurants star chefs hang out on their days off – have made good points on social media.

“The guide should stop creating false expectations and unnecessary angst,” wrote one chef (in Portuguese – I’m translating again). “There are other ways to generate ‘teasers’ that enhance the health and dignity of serious, skilled cooks and chefs.”

Another congratulated the winners before lamenting the lack of new two- and three-star restaurants and the complete omission of women – “Marlene Vieira should have earned her first star” for her eponymous new restaurant – and the way inspectors Spaniards must have traveled by train from Lisbon to Porto “to save tires, forgetting the rest of the country”.

And one of the country’s most Michelin-connected people, Gonçalo Castel-Branco, who has invited virtually every star- and star-worthy chef to cook aboard his presidential train or at his Chefs on Fire festival, didn’t not hesitate.

“Michelin is very anti-Portuguese,” he said, adding that it’s good news that they’ve decided to have a Portuguese guide: “Traditionally, that means they recognize the potential . It’s good that they are investing in our country” (even if it will probably be done by the same Spanish inspectors with the same criteria).

But “it didn’t show last night compared to the number of restaurants deserving of stars. Our deserving leaders continue to be ignored. If António Galapinto had Prado in New York, he would have a star tomorrow. We know that Michelin rewards French service. I understand, and that’s fine. But many restaurants in Portugal have this and deserve recognition.

He continued, “It was not a joyless night,” noting his pleasure at finally seeing Coelho Santos rewarded and Avillez’s courteous gesture of stepping off stage for resident chef Diogo to be honoured.

“But Michelin is like Sporting [a football club] in Portugal: You always think the night is going to be okay and they always find a way to break your heart.

That said, here are Portugal’s stars in 2023.

1 star

Óscar Geadas at G Pousada, Bragança

António Loureiro in A Cozinha, Guimarães

Arnaldo Azevedo at Vila Foz restaurant, near Porto

Vasco Coelho Santos at Studio Eskaldunia, Porto

Julien Montbabut at Monument, Porto

Pedro Lemos in Pedro Lemos, Porto

Vitor Matos at Antiqvvm, Porto

Tiago Bonito at Casa da Calçada, Amarante

Diogo Rocha, Mesa de Lemos, near Viseu

José Avillez and João Diogo and Encanto, Lisbon

Paulo Alves in Kabuki, Lisbon

Paulo Morais in Kanazawa, Lisbon

Ljubomir Stanisic at 100 Maneiras, Lisbon

Pedro Pena Bastos in Cura, Lisbon

Joachim Koerper at Eleven, Lisbon

Eneko Atxa at Eneko, Lisbon

Vincent Fargas at Epur, Lisbon

João Rodrigues Feitoria, Lisbon (André Cruz is now the chef)

Martin Berasategui at Fifty Seconds, Lisbon

Alexandre Silva at Loco, Lisbon

Gil Fernandez at Forteleza do Guincho, Cascais

Sergi Arola at LAB, Sintra

Pedro Almeida in Midori, Sintra

Carlos Teixeira in Esporao, Alentejo

Luís Anjos in Al Sud, Algarve

Luís Brito in A Ver Tavira, Algarve

Jose Lopes in Bon Bon, Algarve

Libório Buonocore at Gusto by Heinz Beck, Algarve

Joao Oliveira in Vista, Algarve

Rui Silvestre in Vistas, Algarve

Luís Pestana at Restaurant William, Madeira

2 stars

Rui Paula at Casa da Cha da Boa Nova, near Porto

Ricardo Costa at The Yeatman, Porto

Henrique Sá Pessoa in Alma, Lisbon

José Avillez at Belcanto, Lisbon

Hans Neuner at the ocean, Algarve

Dieter Koschina in Vila Joya, Algarve

Benoit Sinthon, Il Gallo d’Oro, Madeira

3 stars

Unfortunately none in Portugal

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