One of our most high-profile chefs, but whose fame is not due solely to his media exposure. It is largely thanks to his dishes – based on tradition but with touches of international haute cuisine, and which have won over all the country’s food critics, including those at Time Out. His packed CV takes in leading restaurants in London and Sydney as well as various projects of his own (such as the new Alma, in Chiado). At the Mercado da Ribeira, Sá Pessoa offers a selection of the dishes that have made him famous and which he learned to make on his travels around the world.
“Sá Pessoa is probably the best example of the new generation of Portuguese chefs. He has charted a solid, intelligent course, taking calculated risks and showing a clear desire to communicate to clients why the country’s cuisine is worthy of much greater attention abroad.” BIO_At a time when some chefs spend more time on television than in the kitchen, Henrique Sá Pessoa remains one of the faces most widely recognised by the general public, thanks to his popular series Ingrediente Secreto (‘Secret Ingredient’). But he has never lost touch with the reality of his restaurants, which continue to absorb most of his time. But to look back at his career: large part of his culinary education was abroad, as was more or less inevitable. As soon as he understood that cooking was his vocation he also realised that he had to travel. He studied at the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts in the US, e no Institut Cordon Bleu, he worked at the Park Lane Hotel in London and at the Sheraton on the Park in Sydney, Australia, where he lived for two years. When he finally returned to Portugal he brought know-how and a track record, but decided to continue working in hotels. He started at the Lapa Palace, then moved to the Bairro Alto Hotel (where he ran the Flores restaurant) and then on to the Sheraton, where he oversaw the already famous Panorama. In 2005, with all this under his belt, he was the natural winner of the Chef Cozinheiro do Ano, Portugal’s most important competition of its kind. The step change came in 2009. That was when he decided to leave the world of hotels and his comfort zone, and open his first restaurant on his own account. Alma, in Santos, was an instant success. But like all other such projects launched at the time, it was hit hard by the economic crisis and ended up closing in 2013. It was during this lengthy lean period that the invitation came from Time Out Market for him to occupy the central place on the chefs’ wing. The timing was perfect for Sá Pessoa, who as a result in 2014 was able to keep his team working with him as he prepared for the opening the following year of the new Alma, a project that was more solid and elegant and located in an area just right for a chef with high ambitions: in the heart of the Chiado. In 2018, Alma won it’s second Michelin star.