The latest episode of CNN International’s Culinary Journeys features the Portuguese chef Jose Avillez, as he takes a tasty fishing trip in Cascais – a beautiful coastal town in Portugal.
The episode takes in some of Portugal’s best food, wine, music and culture, as the proud chef uses the opportunity to show what his country has to offer.
Avillez is one of the most famous and successful chefs in Portugal and the episode shows off his intense passion for the food of his homeland.
Below you can watch the entire episode in three parts, you can also read our exclusive interview with Avillez as he talks more about the journey he took.
Tell us about the Culinary Journey you decided to take for the show?
I accepted Culinary Journeys’ invitation with great pleasure and enthusiasm. For me, it is a privilege to talk about Portuguese gastronomy and some of our products and traditions. First, I took the intrepid CNN team on a boat fishing trip in Cascais, and also to a fish market, since I believe we have the best fish in the world. Next, my team and I prepared a traditional Portuguese lunch at Cantinho do Avillez and I showed them fado, a music style that, like our food, represents Portuguese culture. After that, we visited St. George Castle, where you can get the best Lisbon panorama. The day after that, we went to the Quinta do Monte D’Oiro vineyards, about an hour away from Chiado, and then we came back in time for me to prepare my red giant shrimp dish at Belcanto. The next day we went to a wonderfully preserved local grocery store, filled with delicacies and genuine Portuguese products. In the afternoon we walked around town, exploring street food, unique aspects of local gastronomy, and iconic dishes like grilled sardines. On the last day, I showed them the annual St. Anthony parade, down Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon’s main avenue, and all the colorful celebrations associated with this local holiday.
What did you learn from this journey that you will apply inside your own restaurants?
Although my restaurants have very different concepts, in all of them, to a greater or lesser extent, there is a distinct Portuguese inspiration. This journey reinforced the pride in what’s ours and confirmed the notion that we have one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world.
Also, all of the people we spoke with were excited to be a part of this project, to extend to everyone the famous Portuguese welcoming spirit, and to share their knowledge and traditions. This is something that I will continue to promote in my restaurants.
If we gave you a blank cheque for a culinary journey anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Rather than a blank cheque, I would like to have a blank schedule, to be able to travel with no time constraints.
If I had that free time, I would like to go on several gastronomic travels, namely:
- A trip around Portugal, including the islands, in order to discover the many traditions passed on orally from generation to generation that one day may be lost.
- A trip to Japan, because it's a fascinating culture that requires time to be discovered. Also, they have an incredible fish tradition, just like Portugal (and with some historical ties to ours), that I would love to get to explore in depth.
- A trip to India, to absorb its diversity, its richness of aromas and flavours. Portugal also has a strong historical connection to some parts of India that began 500 years ago, ever since the Age of Discovery.
What’s the one culinary journey you always look forward to taking?
I like to go to the market, whether it be in Lisbon, Cascais or the Algarve, to get Portuguese fish and seafood – the world's best – for me to cook with. I love the taste of the sea. The low temperature of our waters gives our fish and seafood an incredible texture and a unique flavour.
Tell us what’s happening with Portuguese cuisine at the moment – what’s exciting you?
At the moment, the food scene is specially growing in Lisbon. New quality restaurants and food stores are emerging and betting in high quality Portuguese products. The culinary scenario is getting very interesting, and I’m excited to be taking part in this movement. Very soon I will open Bairro do Avillez (Avillez’ Neighbourhood), a new and amazing venue in Lisbon, in the Chiado district, with different eating areas inspired by the best Portuguese flavours.