We spoke with Luís Gaspar, a chef with a promising future within the Portuguese gastronomic panorama. He defines himself as a defender of Portuguese gastronomy, where technique and products govern his day-to-day life.
He is part of Plateform, the gastronomic companies group led by entrepreneur and visionary, Rui Sanches. Having seen great potential in Luís Gaspar, Rui Sanches has left three of his latest projects within the group in his capable hands.
To speak of Luís Gaspar is to talk about respect for the product, of an organised person whose profession as a chef is in his DNA.
You are in charge of three gastronomic super projects: Sala de Corte, Pica Pau and Brilhante. How do you accommodate them all?
My priorities are the product, technique and an appreciation of small producers and local products. Being in charge of three great gastronomic projects makes me a more complete chef, more focused on the product, technique and conceptual creativity. I'm increasingly creative, I like to develop and create restaurants with a very well-defined concept to become gastronomic destinations.
I have to be very organised, to plan the management of the service and my teams very well. I'm in constant contact with my resident head chefs every day. There is a resident head chef and a restaurant manager of my utmost confidence in each restaurant. The team is undoubtedly my big secret. I have the best possible team I could wish for in every restaurant. Chefs who support me, respect my identity, are faithful and who are committed to me and Plateform. It takes a long time and a lot of work to form a great team, I have chefs who have worked with me for seven years, that's the big challenge and it's my big secret.
How do you organise your day-to-day life to be present in each of the projects?
I'm in constant contact with my head chefs and the supervisor of my restaurants, Tiago Palrão, who is like my extension in management, planning and coordination of my restaurants. We work great together; he is an excellent restaurant and people manager and a gentleman in service.
I try to plan my schedule so I can spend as much time as possible at the three restaurants, managing the needs of the team, the gastronomic agenda and the creative component of the products and new dishes. I always want to be close to my teams and I really like being in the kitchen during service, but I get it, it's absolute madness to lead three restaurants with such different concepts. I sleep very little, and I never stop thinking about the restaurants.
Tell us more about your three projects.
The Sala de Corte is a classic steakhouse, with an emphasis on matured meats with lots of technique and product appreciation. It was recently voted one of the 50 best meat restaurants in the world by World Best Steak Restaurants. We place great emphasis on the best meats worldwide, particularly the local Portuguese breeds, the Japanese Wagyu and the Australian Wagyu. The use of the ember-grill technique, the best meat and the best wines in the world are the highlight of the restaurant.
Pica Pau is a long-standing dream of being able to recover and value our national gastronomic heritage. The best products, the most traditional recipes without any meddling or intervention of the chef. I'm clearly a supporter of small producers and traditional Portuguese gastronomy. At Pica Pau, what matters most is the right product with the right technique, the flavour as the maximum exponent.
The concept of Brilhante is to revive the gastronomic history of Lisbon's iconic restaurants from the 1970s and 1980s. We focus on the most classic dishes of Lisbon and French gastronomy. The best product, classic techniques and the rigour of French cuisine are the starting point. The highlight of the menu is the Bife Brilhante, inspired by the iconic and centenary Bife à Marrare, where we rewrite history with our interpretation. It is a bohemian restaurant that stands out for its exclusivity and eccentricity, where we also spotlight our whisky bar with more than 50 examples from around the world.
What do you expect from each of the restaurants?
In general, the goals are common and apply across all my restaurants. I want to earn a prominent place with each of them on the national and international gastronomic scene. The three restaurants have very different concepts, and my aim is to assert them as gastronomic destinations. My identity as a chef, and my way of thinking about the kitchen in all of them, is based on three values: Product, Technique and Flavour.
If you had to choose one of them, which one would you choose?
That's a very difficult question, it's like asking which of your children is your favourite. All of them have my identity, the same importance in my career, at different times. These three restaurants are the result of my evolution and consolidation as a chef. They reveal my experience, creativity and the way I want to present myself within the gastronomic panorama.