As chef of the two-Michelin-starred Ocean Restaurant in the Algarve, with its breathtaking cliff-top location, Austrian-born Hans Neuner never imagined when he arrived there in 2007 that he would fall in love with Portugal and stay. Passionate about cooking from the age of 14, he worked at leading hotels in London, Mallorca, Berlin and Hamburg, including a stint on board a cruise ship, before moving to the Vila Vita Parc in Portugal as Ocean’s executive chef. There he worked hard to achieve recognition in his own right, clinching a first Michelin star in 2009 after only two years which was followed by a second in 2011. Neuner is passionate about traveling and has visited over 100 different countries in his unquenchable thirst for knowledge, exchanging ideas and learning new techniques then experimenting and innovating with locally grown organic produce and locally caught fish and seafood on returning to Portugal. He and his team of young chefs create novel dishes which put the producers in the spotlight, emphasizing more traditional Portuguese food and always following the seasons. His menu is technically perfect, showcasing a remarkable and incredibly distinctive light touch with the focus on color and flavor where the playful presentation adds yet another layer to his creative output. Stunning views, sublime food, seamless service and stylish sophistication sum up the essence of Hans Neuner at Ocean.
Based on the island of Madeira, Benoît Sinthon, Executive Chef of the gourmet two-Michelin-starred Il Gallo d’Oro restaurant at The Cliff Bay hotel in Funchal, brings to bear his classic French training with fluidity and flavor, seasonality and freshness. Chef Sinthon’s love affair with food began in the markets of Marseille in the company of his Italian grandmother whose love of cooking ignited in him a lifelong passion. But it was the love of another woman, his wife Lara, which first took the chef to Madeira in the early 1990s as a Junior Sous Chef at Reid’s Palace where he stayed for 2 years before returning to the three-starred La Côte Saint Jacques in Burgundy with renowned chef Jean Michel Lorain. In 1998 the couple returned to Madeira and, after working at Madeira’s Hotel Savoy and Casa Velha, he joined The Cliff Bay in 2004 where he felt ready to take on the challenge of overseeing all four of the hotel’s restaurants and 30 chefs. Il Gallo d’Oro became Madeira’s first restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star in 2008, gaining 2-Michelin star status in 2017. Benoît Sinthon still visits the local markets before deciding on the menus, with about 90 per cent of the fruit and vegetables sourced locally and around 60 per cent of the fish from Madeira in addition to locally grown edible and aromatic herbs and flowers. This means a regularly changing menu of tastebud tantalizing dishes, such as lobster and tomato symphony, local black scabbard fish stuffed with seaweed served with caviar and shellfish sauce, and a chocolate cube with caramel and poached pear. His dishes are aromatic and light, combining earth and sea, while still strongly influenced by his birthplace.
Dieter Koschina, born in Vorarlberg, Austria, holder of two Michelin stars, is not only one of Portugal’s best chefs, he has also turned the Boutique Resort Vila Joya on the Algarve into culinary hotspot for connoisseurs. For more than 27 years, Koschina has been an indispensable part of the overall work of art that is Vila Joya, opened in 1982 by Claudia Jung and her family. He initially gained experience with Chef of the Century Eckart Witzigmann, as well as with Heinz Winkler at Tantris and Gerhard Schwaiger at Tristán on Mallorca. But it was not until he moved to Vila Joya that he began to develop his very own culinary expertise and style. Now, using the fresh, light products typical of Portugal, he presents a straightforward, aromatic cuisine exclusively focused on the product and exquisite taste. And since there are new ingredients every day, the 56-year-old also creates a new 6-course meal night after night.
With a twinkle in his eye, he calls his philosophy “John Wayne style” because many a time he simply fires the courses straight from the hip. The Austrian-born chef does not think much of cooking trends and targets. He would rather cook what he loves, surprising guests with new creations, taking his inspiration from the daily offerings of Portugal’s market culture and the Atlantic Ocean right on his doorstep. But he always keeps his culinary home in Austria firmly in his sights. The fact that he has held two Michelin stars for 17 years, despite the daily menu changes, clearly shows the level of talent and ability Koschina displays.
ServusTV: Culinary Heights at Ikarus on ServusTV
Each month at Salzburg’s two Michelin-starred Restaurant Ikarus, a different top international chef creates the menu. For this globally unique concept, Hangar-7 executive chef Martin Klein visits the cream of the crop, takes a look behind the scenes of haute cuisine, and is let in on some exciting culinary secrets. “Culinary Heights at Ikarus” offers a unique glimpse into the world of high-end cuisine and provides an interesting portrait of each guest chef, their culinary philosophy, and the food culture of their country.