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“Alexandre was one of the first Portuguese chefs to think for himself. That is, being guided more by his own creativity than by inspiration from books and tradition. It isn’t something that just anyone can do.”
In contrast to the many chefs who have their mother or grandmother to thank for their passion for cooking, Alexandre Silva, who was born in Abrigada in 1980, sees his paternal grandfather as his greatest inspiration. It was this grandpa that he remembered when he won the 2012 television competition Top Chef, which shot him to national stardom. But even before that, as chef at the restaurant Bocca, in Lisbon, he had attracted a lot of attention from local foodies. Thanks to his outstanding work there, food critics at Time Out Lisboa gave him six stars – the only chef ever to be awarded that honour (the scoring system of one to six stars has since changed – coincidentally just after Silva achieved the top score – to the current range of one to five stars). In 2012 the economic crisis in Portugal forced Bocca to close and its chef decided to strike out for the interior to take over the kitchens at Alentejo Marmòris, a five-star hotel in Vila Viçosa. Soon afterwards he returned to Lisbon to accept the challenge of taking over the kitchen of one of the country’s most important restaurants: Bica do Sapato. It was as its executive chef that he was asked to take part in the Time Out Market project, where his dishes have won praise from customers from the four corners of the world. His success here has encouraged him at last to launch another personal venture that will enable him to follow his ambitions in haute cuisine. The restaurant Loco, up in the Estrela neighbourhood, already has locals talking and looks to have a bright future.