Vila Joya, in the Algarve, is set to become the ‘record holder’ of the Portuguese restaurants distinguished by the Michelin Guide, with 26 consecutive years, according to the Austrian chef Dieter Koschina, to be “in paradise “.
The restaurant, housed in the hotel of the same name, near Galé Beach (Albufeira), won the Michelin Guide’s first star (‘fine cuisine, worth stopping’) in 1994 and won the second star (‘ worth the detour ‘) five years later, a distinction that holds to this day.
In the history of the Portuguese Michelin Guide, another restaurant had a star for 25 years – Porto de Santa Maria, in Cascais, between 1984 and 2008.
Currently, four other Portuguese restaurants have two stars: Ocean (Armação de Pêra), since 2012; Belcanto (Lisbon) since 2015; (Portugal). The hotel has 18 restaurants with one star, of which the oldest is Henrique Leis (Almancil), since 2001.
Koschina, who has lived in Portugal since 1991, justifies the longevity of Vila Joya in the Michelin Guide: “I live in a paradise zone with sun and sea products.
The Austrian highlights the quality of the Portuguese fish: “My motivation is the Atlantic, smell the products [of the sea], visit the fishermen in Sagres. All the cooks in the world visit Sagres and are impressed by the quality.”
Contrary to what is usual in high-gastronomy restaurants, with fixed menus that are being changed regularly, Vila Joya never has two similar meals.
“This is not a restaurant, it’s a hotel.” Every day people eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the menu must always be changed “, which is based on” fresh produce with a high level of quality”.
“The customer says ‘wow.’ If you like, tomorrow will have a new menu, with new inspiration,” he added, speaking in Portuguese with a pronounced Germanic accent.
Dieter Koschina believes that fine Portuguese cuisine is having a good time, with “many new cooks doing a completely different cuisine from the traditional”, but needs more “help and respect”.
Having Michelin stars, he says, is a guarantee of “higher quality tourism”.
On the occasion of the gala of presentation of the Guide Michelin Spain and Portugal 2019, next Wednesday in Lisbon, in which is the first time that the country welcomes this ceremony, Koschina considers that reflects the quality of the Portuguese kitchen, that “has grown in the last five or six years. ”
Asked if he hopes to reach the third star (‘unique cuisine, justifies the trip’), maximum distinction, the Austrian chef is cautious: “Let’s see. This is Michelin Guide.”