Welcome, chef João Rodrigues!
João Rodrigues has just joined the chefs’ wing in the the Time Out Market, where he will be showing off his cuisine, in what he calls a democratisation of his starred restaurant, Feitoria. These days one often hears chefs saying that their cuisine is based on seasonal, local and organic products, with waste kept to a minimum. While in many cases these are mere words, in others it is a maxim that is translated into actions. João Rodrigues is a good example of someone who literally practises what he preaches, in the kitchen and outside, to the extent that he has created a platform to research, catalogue and publicise products and producers, called Matéria (literally ‘Matter). It’s a unending task that is constantly evolving. In the year that marks a decade since the opening of Feitoria, the restaurant in the Altis Belém hotel where he has worked from the start and where he took over the reins in 2014, Rodrigues has decided to make his cuisine more visible and accessible. It was in that context that he accepted the invitation to join the Time Out Market, where he promises “an informal, simple proposition with a philosophy that is close to the one that prevails at Feitoria: Portuguese seasonal ingredients produced in an environmentally conscious way.” What for many chefs might seem impossible in a space on the scale of the Time Out Market, to Rodrigues is a challenge that he has sezied with enthusiasm. “The idea is to show that you can apply cuisine based on good seasonal products on a different model, in much larger volume.” You just have to look at (and sample) the menu that he has in the Time Out Market to understand that his intention is there. Among the starters highlights include the tartare of Portuguese beef with watercress and São Miguel cheese from the Azores, and the roasted cauliflower with chick peas, hazelnuts and yoghurt sauce. Fish dishes include bacalhau (salt cod) fish cakes with tomato rice and a dish of prawn and ravioli with piso alentejano, a coriander paste. Among meats look out for pork cheeks (bochecha), goat and Arouquesa beef. Every month there is to be a new main dish, representing the best of the season. The dessert menu and wine list are Portuguese, too, ranging from a pastel de nata (custard tart) with cinnamon foam, and a rice pudding with candied Elvas plum: Rodrigues’s intention here is to bring the best from around the cuontry into this little space he now occupies in the Time Out Market.