Tag: crisis

Eating in Lisbon (in Portugal of the rebirth after the crisis) – Italian Cuisine

Good news and success stories. In Portugal, thanks to the 2011 crisis, everything has been rethought for the better (including catering). The story of chef José Avillez, his restaurants, and a lesson for the future – ours

PIGS was the most used acronym of 2011 to indicate countries in crisis due to the public deficit. Portugal had touched the default, but today, nine years later, everything has changed, so much that it seems unrecognizable. Italy narrowly escaped it, they took the crisis in full: it was a slap so strong as to awaken an entire people and see them reborn. Before Lisbon was introverted and melodramatic, abandoned and ramshackle, today it is a new city that is teeming with tourists, new citizens and where energy vibrates in the air. The Portuguese have reinvented themselves, but also tourists arrive in droves, start-ups have opened offices, expats have brought families here, English have moved on the run from Brexit. Pure Italian pensioners have chosen the beaches of Cascais for old age. With a new one crisis causes pandemic, the lesson of Portugal and the stories of its chefs must be looked at with a new attention.

Restart from Portuguese gastronomy

Just stroll through the streets of Lisbon, those of Chiado, the Fernando Pessoa neighborhood and other twentieth-century Portuguese intellectuals, theaters and more elegant shops. Ten years ago it was all a succession of abandoned shops and lowered shutters, today the streets are full of boutiques, shops, restaurants, one after the other, full. The adventure of celebrity has also started in Chiado chef José Avillez. Two Michelin stars at Belcanto restaurant and soul of one twenty rooms. In 10 years, those of the crisis (and also thanks to the crisis), he built a small empire, and managed to make Lisbon a world gastronomic capital.
Promoting Portuguese gastronomy and helping to make Portugal a gastronomic destination of excellence is not an easy goal, especially when you start your adventure as an entrepreneur in 2011, one of the worst years. "Nunca pens llegar hasta aquí", which translated like this: "I never thought I would get this far." This is thanks to a close-knit, passionate and enthusiastic team, a clear mission and an entrepreneurial spirit that has led him to go further, always. He never tires of thanking José Avillez.

José Avillez, 40 years old and 20 restaurants

Originally from Cascais, José grew up near the sea, then studied business communication at the university. It is under the guidance of the mother of traditional Portuguese gastronomy, Maria de Lurdes Modesto, who takes her first steps in the kitchen before going abroad and entering Ferran Adrià's El Bullí. No one has ever emerged unscathed, and Josè also returned home with a different way of seeing the kitchen and understanding the role of chef.
Today it has ten restaurants in Lisbon, Porto and Cascais, three gourmet spaces in Lisbon's El Corte Inglés, a restaurant in Dubai for a total of twenty venues (for now). Josè is 40 years old and to succeed in this he acted as a talent scout for young cooks and as a magnet for investors, managing to build a constellation of virtuous connections which, under his supervision and name, develop in openings; one way the other. Around him orbit dozens of collaborators who work in restaurants but above all creative minds and a team dedicated to the development of the many projects at stake, including TV programs, books, food and wine.

In the beginning it was not the starry

Usually in these cases, everything starts with the starred restaurant, but this is the story of Josè and things went differently. The first restaurant opened in 2011 has been Cantinho do Avillez, in Chiado (now also in Cascais, Porto and Parque das Nações), a modern trattoria with a programmatic definition: contemporary Portuguese cuisine influenced by trips abroad and by the childhood flavors of chef José Avillez. Fish soup as eaten in Cascais and fish tacos, typical battered and pregos beans, sandwich with steak and garlic sauce. Among the desserts, the orange roll, "just like when I was 10". Local raw materials of the highest quality blend with avocado tempura and you do not find yourself in a den of tourists, but to share the lunch break with the employees of the area.

Belcanto, the first 2-star hotel in the country

A year later Cantinho do Avillez was born Belcanto, the first two Michelin star restaurant in the country and in 42nd place in the prestigious ranking The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Born to say why Belcanto is an iconic place. Opened in 1958 in São Carlos square, near the São Carlos National Theater and the birthplace of the great Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, it has been a meeting point for Lisbon's elite for decades. Here today you experience Portuguese haute cuisine and you can live a gourmet experience made of very sophisticated dishes that tell the story, the flavors, the ingredients of a people. Creative forge, Belcanto was the engine of the Shuttle, the tangible demonstration that Portuguese cuisine had the legs to change and develop, to attract investments and decline in different formats.

What no one has ever done in Italy

No logic like "first line" and "chef's bistro", but a galaxy of formats ranging from the pizzeria to the Peruvian restaurant, in which José's hand acts as a guide and supervisor able to inspire, suggest, monitor, define every detail; because everything is well-kept, almost manic, to make the experience perfect. Meat, fish, Asian, cocktails … each place lives a life of its own.
The most impressive is the Bairro do Avillez, in Rua Nova da Trindade, always in Chiado. It literally means "neighborhood", because more than a restaurant, this is actually a project that unites different areas inspired by the best Portuguese flavors. Open every day, from midday to midnight, it includes one Mercearia where to buy selected typical products, the Taberna with generous portions of traditional cuisine, the Páteo most spectacular in the city specializing in fish and seafood e Beco, a "secret" space where to dine and drink cocktails during a cabaret show. In front, a few meters away, another room that hides a secret bar. Rei from China specializes in Asian soups, street food and Thai Bánh Mì by chef Estanis Carenzo, Argentine chef with a Japanese and Asian background. You cross the entrance and like in a speakeasy you find yourself immersed in another place reminiscent of a 1940s club in Shanghai, born from the collaboration of the two chefs. At the Casa dos Prazeres (literally, house of pleasure) we eat dishes and drink creations that celebrate the secular relationship between Portugal and Asia, which among the first sailed the seas to places like Singapore and Macau. As the menu reminds, Asia is the largest continent in the world, in fact it ranges from curries from Malaysia, rice paper rolls from Vietnam, ceviche from the Philippines, noodles and satay chicken from Indonesia and barbecued chicken Luang Prabang from Laos. Delicious Goa cassata, a Japanese sponge cake with layers of ice cream and dried fruit.

Canto, the latest born. To go back to singing

After the change of location of the starred restaurant, in 2019, the last of Avillez's projects was born in the windows alongside, in the historic place of Belcanto: I sing. A menu inspired by Portuguese cuisine and a live show with voice and music by Ana Moura and António Zambujo, for a place that brings the hands back to the city's history. José wanted to do it for a long time, to give back to the city something he had lost and the magic of the premises of the past: beautiful and ambitious. It is a bit as if in Milan Cracco reopened the Derby, so to speak, and built around it a galaxy of autonomous projects supported by different entrepreneurs. A vision? Certainly, but also an opportunity born from the economic incentives and the tax exemptions allowed by the Portuguese government, which have relieved the country of the abyss. Belcanto is back to singing, and in Lisbon not even the fado sings more than saudade, sadness and loneliness, but of love, of the future and of hope. We hope that the lesson will also serve Italy.

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how to help restaurants overcome the crisis – Italian Cuisine

I pay today, I eat tomorrow: the formulas with which we can support restaurants and trattorias in this moment of great difficulty, including vouchers, gift vouchers, dining bonds and the like

It hurts to see our lowered gate valve from afar restaurant of the heart. The unlit signs hurt, as well as the menus of the day that disappeared suddenly, replaced by signs that warn of the temporary obligation to close due to a medical emergency. Yet in our hearts we know: this terrible moment will end, and those tables that today take dust behind the darkened windows will return to host our dinners, our toasts, our "will you let me taste it, please?". Soon, very soon, or so we all hope. According to a recent survey carried out by Nomisma for the Lockdown Observatory, on the other hand, among the very first things that Italians intend to do as soon as the Covid-19 alarm returns, there is precisely the return to eat outside the home. A fact that undoubtedly encourages the restaurateurs of our country, who in recent months have been able to rely substantially only on two forms of income: on the one hand, for some, the conversion of their business into a key food delivery, which made it possible to keep ovens and stoves on to prepare dishes for home delivery; on the other, the presale of vouchers for future dinners, already renamed – winking at the increasingly discussed Eurobonds – such as Ristobond, Restaurant Bond & Co.

Diningbond.com – Milanese restaurants participating in the initiative.

I buy today, I have dinner tomorrow

The idea of ​​the voucher for a future dinner is not something particularly upsetting. And anyone who has chosen this option as a gift for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and the like knows it well. At the time of the global lockdown, however, there were those who saw in this possibility an excellent idea to somehow finance their favorite restaurants in their darkest hour: so, for example, Helen Patrikis, Steven Hall and Alan Aurmont they developed the campaign Dining Bond, left in the United States and also landed here in Italy; through the initiative portal it is possible to discover all the places that have decided to join, and that make available to their customers special vouchers at discounted prices.

A project somewhat similar to that also proposed by TripAdvisor, which in addition to helping the locals convert as easily as possible to food delivery, is also allowing restaurateurs to add to the profile of their restaurant the"gift certificates" option, through which customers can purchase a lunch or dinner in advance. Or to that of Dinnerbond.it, a platform for the purchase of vouchers inaugurated in recent days by Massimo Giannuzzi, Micaela Marcialis, Maurizio Rosazza Prin and Paolo Colapietro who, with the cry of "Love now, enjoy later", involved a team of famous chefs which also includes Cristina Bowerman, Lorenzo Cogo, Filippo La Mantia, Luigi Taglienti and Cristiano Tomei.

The ravioli egg of San Domenico di Imola.

Support haute cuisine

To trust in customers' trust and, consequently, in the success of vouchers purchased in advance, are above all the signs dedicated to haute cuisine, which have been less able to continue working in these months by playing the home delivery card. So many star chefs have inaugurated real funding campaigns via gift vouchers: Andrea Berton, for example, has launched the Restaurant Bonds for its restaurant in Milan, in the Porta Nuova area, which allow you to buy a special with 150 euros tasting menu for two people, accompanied by a glass of aperitif. "I thought that with the sale of these vouchers we could reduce the economic impact caused by the necessary prevention measures adopted", explains the chef. "Buying a voucher is not just a matter of investment, but a way to send a message of confidence that this crisis will end and the restaurant sector will recover."

A thought shared also by San Domenico di Imola, two Michelin stars, which thanks to this formula has already sold over 50 dinners for two people. "We did it to stay in touch with our customers and let them know that we are there, and that we are expecting them as soon as possible", underlines the chef Massimiliano Mascia. "Mand also to send a positive and hopeful signal, as if to say that everything will pass sooner or later, and we will meet again to toast together . Among the chefs who have decided to bet on culinary bonds, we also find Massimo Bottura, which however soon had to sanction the stop to bookings: all the vouchers for future dinners at his Osteria Francescana Modena sold out in less than 24 hours.

La Madernassa Resort.

Restaurants, of course, but also hotels

Then there are all those restaurants somehow embedded within hotels, resorts and so on that they face not only the difficulties due to the temporary closure of the premises, but also those related to a tourist season which from now on promises to be problematic, to say the least. Also in this case, the purchase of vouchers and gift vouchers on trust can constitute an injection of confidence and liquidity for hoteliers and restaurateurs. The excellent proposals, on the other hand, are certainly not lacking, especially when exploring the field of experience packages, ranging from total relaxation to good, delicious food.

La Madernassa di Guarene in the province of Cuneo, for example, offers the romantic formula "Two hearts and a resort": an 8-course menu, with wine pairing, prepared by the chef Michelangelo Mammoliti, fresh from its second Michelin star, combined with a stay for one night in a suite with breakfast included. In this case the gift voucher (Weekend Bond? Hotel & Restaurant Bond? In short, call it as you prefer) could probably support at the same time tourism is Restaurants: two sectors that have always been the undisputed flagships of our country, but which this damned virus risks compromising in a truly brutal way.

Climate crisis, what will we eat in 2050? – Italian Cuisine

Fresh meat at the supermarket, here's how to recognize it

The expert Amanda Little tried to answer: "It is very likely that we will continue to find a way to produce the food we love most, but we will need very different solutions and cultivation methods"

The climate crisis makes its effects felt: droughts, record heat waves, unstable weather systems. So how will agriculture change, and how will it continue to feed 7.5 billion people? The journalist Amanda Little, professor of Vanderbilt University, who spent four years researching what companies and organizations around the world are doing to ensure sustainable food supplies, tried to respond in his latest book The Fate of Food: What We Will Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World. He tells us what we could bring to the table in 2050, when the world population will exceed 9 billion and our food needs will have increased by 50 percent. «It is very likely that we will continue to find a way to produce the foods we love most, "he explains. "But we will need very different solutions and cultivation methods."


The environmental impact of animal husbandry alone represents about one seventh of man-made greenhouse gas emissions: the main sources of protein could change in the future. So it may be that the one we eat will have the same delicious taste of the meat we have been eating for millennia, but it could be obtained not from a living animal, but from a vegetable protein or from meat grown in a bioreactor. It is very difficult for people to accept this reality, but some version of this meat is available as of now. It is flesh in all respects, the cells come from the animals, but have not grown on them. It is flesh without bones, organs and potential suffering. Meanwhile, insects are gaining a slice of the market, with obvious advantages: they provide more protein and micronutrients and then produce very little waste.

Tomatoes and vegetables

We will continue to eat them, but they could be grown in one vertical farm, without land, with the roots of plants immersed in a fog of nutrients, and light coming not from the sun, but from artificial lighting.

The corn

You can continue to grow in regions like western Kenya, where maize is a basic crop, but it may have to be genetically modified to tolerate more heat, more drought, seasonal changes and new invasive insects.

The coffee

No one intends to give up the daily cup: according to Amanda Little, scientists, farmers and consumers are so busy looking for ways to continue producing the beloved coffee, which will find a way to do it. But coffee culture needs very specific conditions to be successful: you will need to study and experiment a lot.

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