Hélio Gonçalves is the creative mind behind the secrets of Sublime Comporta's cuisine. After winning a Michelin star in Singapore, the chef reinvented Portuguese cuisine at the incredible restaurant in Muda, Alentejo. Wine Tourism in Portugal had the pleasure of joining Sublime Comporta and interviewing the chef, in this exclusive interview that you can read below.
The resort has three dining spaces: The Food Circle, Tasca da Comporta and Sem Porta – there is also the Beach Club a few kilometers away, on Carvalhal beach. Heading all these spaces is chef Hélio Gonçalves, 31 years old. Hélio arrived at Sublime two years ago after an enviable journey, first in Lisbon and then in Asia, in Singapore.
He is passionate about "a good book on wines, meetings with friends from the area, inside a winery, accompanied by stories told about iconic dishes of global gastronomy, the culture around the table and above all the gastronomic heritage that we learn and carry from generation to generation", the chef stated.
Between Lisbon and Grândola, its path has already passed through Singapore. Regarding his past experiences, the chef explained that the "biggest and best" experience he brought from that past was at a personal level, "it helped me to get to know other cultures and consequently helped me professionally to gain maturity within the kitchens, in terms of flavor and consistency", he admitted. With demand and keen competition in Singapore's restaurants, "it was undoubtedly a solid school to be able to head Iggy's Restaurant with 1 Michelin star for two years and then embrace the Sublime Comporta project where I have been Executive Chef of the Group for two and a half years. ".
A staunch defender of our cuisine, he took the flavors of gastronomy to the whole world. His most creative and favorite dishes of his own are "the consommé of Porco Iberico and Foie Alentejano, it's the most creative despite being very simple, and my favorite is the Carabineiro Rice with Kabayaki sauce", he explained. At home, the quality remains, by cooking seasonal dishes. "In the summer mainly grilled fish, in the colder months, I like pasta with a ragú or just plain ones like “Cacio e Pepe”".
Pairing wine with food is a practice that makes the meal even more pleasurable. "Harmonization for me is crucial in the meeting of flavors and that creates the romantic bond in the different experiences that we can have gastronomically speaking.", the chef delineated.
Hélio Gonçalves is a wine lover, and in terms of preferences, he chooses the Raríssimo Clarete Dão by Osvaldo Amado, a modern and complex atelier wine with a unique and rare elegance. Absolutely extraordinary and with a dazzling complexity, it is full of life and fills the senses.
Future of Gastronomy and Sustainability
The chef looks at our cuisine as a legacy that the younger generations are obliged to take care of and perpetuate over time. He also mentions that, for national gastronomy to achieve greater recognition abroad, it is necessary "to continue to show pride and represent it in the best way daily without complete".
Chefs have a privileged role to lead practices and point out good examples of a concern that belongs to everyone. Hélio senses this responsibility, also mentioning that "it is a privilege that we must continue to respect and set an example in helping people inside and outside the kitchens, especially in our homes", he added.
Tradition and innovation go hand in hand in the kitchen, shaping the way for the future of gastronomy. The compatibility of these two factors has evolved, "they are compatible as long as we continue to respect the existing gastronomic culture of our dear ancestors and do not try to invent the wheel. Nowadays recipes easily dissipate with baseless imaginations/creations that sincerely create me some frustration, but I respect the work of some colleagues in the area who I don't identify with and there are tastes for everything.", confessed Hélio.
At Sublime Comporta, the modernity of Portuguese cuisine is celebrated. What sets the group apart from all the others is, according to the chef, "our way of being as individuals and by sharing the knowledge of those who effectively believe in our mission and who interpret the cuisine associated with our passion for honest and well-made hospitality ."
Grupo Sublime recently opened a new hotel in the center of Lisbon, with the aim of bringing the concept of the well-known Comporta hotel to the capital. The project, in culinary terms, presents a combination of flavors following the modernity of the kitchen. Hélio Gonçalves, the executive chef of the group, joins Isaac Kumi, 31, the chef of the Sublime Lisboa restaurant. They developed the menu together, creating an Italian-inspired concept with projects from the region. According to Hélio, this new project presents a "diversified offer to our visitors associated with the restoration of excellence in Food & Beverage".
The future holds many projects by the Sublime Comporta group, "which carries strong hospitality DNA", ended the chef.
© All the images rights belong to Sublime Comporta