Interview with Gonçalo Queiroz – Chef at Origens Restaurante
Gonçalo Queiroz , Chef of Origens Restaurante , is the first interviewee of a series of chefs and entrepreneurs from the Catering, who, using their art, offer those who visit Évora and Alentejo the best we have to offer.
Photo by Theo Gould
How did your story with the kitchen begin?
In a way it wasn't a passion at first sight, because I always liked to contact people and had the idea of being a bartender to talk to people and make cocktails. But that was until I saw the School Chef making a dish with that love and affection that only great chefs do. And from there I said: “no!!! what I want is to be a cook, and to work for one day to be able to be a chef!"
In the kitchen at home, is the chef in charge?
Yes! But I also like having guests at home and cooking with them. The kitchen has this power to bring people together in a conviviality.
Tell us about your previous career and how you got here.
What is the biggest challenge to becoming a chef?
I started at Bica do Sapato, then invited by Chef Nobre, I joined the team at M'AR DE Ar Aqueduto, I also opened L'and with Chef Miguel Laffan, I was with Chef Aimé Barroiyer at Tavares Rico (oldest restaurant from Portugal) and then for the first time as a Chef at the Ecorkhotel in Évora, then I was invited to go to Dubai where I was Chef do Picante (which at the time was the only Portuguese restaurant in the Middle East). When I return, I decide to open Origens, which has been my home since 2016.
The biggest challenge I think was in Dubai, where I had to manage a multi-cultural team and replicate Portuguese cuisine outside Portugal, it has its difficulty that I wasn't expecting.
To become a chef you need a lot of dedication, sacrifice, a lot of study and hard work.
What has it been like to survive in the pandemic and post-quarantine phases?
The pandemic is not yet extinct, but it appears it is under control. I hope that this year there is already some recovery, as tourism is an important engine of the Portuguese economy.
We had to reduce some items from our menu, we continue to invest heavily in products from the region.
We are hopeful that this year there will be strong adherence to restoration by the end of this year.
What is special about Portuguese cuisine?
Portuguese gastronomy has 2 key factors in my opinion:
-the geographic location
that allows us to have the best fish and seafood, high quality meats and cheeses etc…
– and the history of Portugal,
which brought us potatoes, spices, allowed the development of sweets and dishes that are part of this huge legacy we have, etc…
Then, we also have a cultural factor, where we have a very self-taught gastronomy, and an example of this is the tomato soup, which in each village/city in Alentejo is made in a different way, and they are all good!
Tell us a little about Restaurante Origens
If I were to visit your restaurant, which dish would I recommend?
Origens emerged from the need to do something different from what was already in Évora. I wanted to make a Chef's kitchen, inspired by Portuguese/Alentejan cuisine. We try to take the recipes and products from Alentejo and give them a new look. We have a sustainable conscience with the products we work with, the best in every season.
Seasonality is important to our work. So we can go to Origens in autumn and eat dishes with chestnuts and sweet potatoes, in winter we can pick persimmons and quinces, in spring we can have broad beans, and various vegetables and in summer there are many fruits and other garden products to be worked… By it's easy to go to Origens and not catch the same dishes all year round, which also turns out to be another reason to be visited.