Chef at the table

Paulo Mon­teiro

DNA Magazine (Portugal) - - Table Of Contents -

Ev­ery client who vis­its one of the ho­tels in the Dis­cov­ery uni­verse, re­gard­less of whether they are De­sign Col­lec­tion, Ho­tels & Re­sorts or Vil­las & Apart­ments, will un­doubt­edly have a unique ex­pe­ri­ence in ev­ery prop­erty. All our units work with gen­uine prod­ucts and lo­cal DNA. We are a restau­rant with a ho­tel and not a ho­tel with a restau­rant, start­ing with a home-made break­fast, freshly caught seafood, first-rate cured meats, and veg­eta­bles from our own kitchen gar­den, among other as­pects.

Is there a com­mon strat­egy or is each unit com­pletely dis­tinct?

There is a com­mon strat­egy for all the units, i.e. work­ing to sat­isfy clients and to al­ways pro­vide mem­o­ries and gas­tro­nomic ex­pe­ri­ences. Not only that, we strive to en­sure that clients al­ways feel the de­sire to re­turn. After all, we work for our clients.

The À TERRA res­tau­rants have been very well re­ceived. What is the se­cret of this suc­cess?

Yes, that's true. Our À TERRA res­tau­rants re­ally have been very well re­ceived and it is all due to the strict stan­dards we im­ple­mented right from the out­set in terms of choos­ing all the prod­ucts, fa­vor­ing lo­cal pro­duce and stor­ing them prop­erly. We col­lect recipes from each re­gion, pre­pare them and in­tro­duce them to our menus, treat­ing each in­gre­di­ent with re­spect and mak­ing the most of ev­ery one of them, work­ing in a sim­ple, tra­di­tional and rus­tic but so­phis­ti­cated man­ner.

De­spite strong lo­cal ties, the cui­sine served at À TERRA mainly has a Mediter­ranean fla­vor, with new ap­proaches to rus­tic and tra­di­tional fare. Are there any plans to ex­plore other paths or cre­ate an­other restau­rant brand?

When you have a strong brand in the mar­ket like the one we cur­rently have, we nat­u­rally look to im­prove it even fur­ther, with ded­i­ca­tion and a de­sire to cre­ate new ways of sat­is­fy­ing our clients, such as by cre­at­ing points of ref­er­ence in each unit, shar­ing ex­pe­ri­ences with our lo­cal pro­duc­ers, shar­ing know-how and knowl­edge, al­ways look­ing for nov­el­ties which are ca­pa­ble of sur­pris­ing. The im­pres­sion that ho­tel res­tau­rants are only open to ho­tel guests still per­sists? What do you do to en­cour­age clients who are not ho­tel guests to visit the res­tau­rants?

Yes, it's true that im­pres­sion still per­sists, but in­creas­ingly less so. We have worked very hard to pub­li­cize what we do, what we have to of­fer and to show that the ho­tel is for any­one who wishes to en­ter. One of our pri­or­i­ties, when­ever pos­si­ble, is to have an en­trance door for the restau­rant which is in­de­pen­dent of the ho­tel re­cep­tion.

What can you tell us about restau­rant and cui­sine trends in com­ing years? Any­thing new?

Res­tau­rants are a very dif­fer­ent world, one which is con­stantly chang­ing. We are al­ways cre­at­ing and seek­ing new meth­ods and tech­niques since ev­ery­thing changes very swiftly in the world of cui­sine. To­day we might think this is the best way of cook­ing one prod­uct or an­other and to­mor­row a new tech­nique could emerge which shows us that the same prod­uct can be dif­fer­ent and much bet­ter. The ques­tion to ask is, "How did we cook in the past, how do we cook nowa­days and how will we cook in the fu­ture?". We have to rein­vent our­selves ev­ery day since we are in a pro­fes­sion in which we are judged all the time and what we feel is pre­sented on the plate placed in front of our cus­tomers.

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