Changing with the Seasons
–featuring Lisbon’s Prado Restaurante
Lately, we’ve been in touch with many food entrepreneurs and producers. With some time to reflect, a new belief has revealed itself to me: it’s not just a trend anymore to call yourself a passionate culinary that values nature. The virtue has spread across countries, and culinary conversations are now bounded by a new nature driven and seasonal approach.
“Our inspiration comes mostly from what is in season, what is good or great at the moment. We try to follow the fish seasons as well, and that just makes our job easier, because the ingredients tend to pair perfectly if they are all around at the same time.” — Antonio Galapito, Prado Restaurante, Lisbon
Acting seasonal, local and small scale seems to be in fashion. But over talks with chef Antonio Galapito from the new Prado Restaurante in Lisbon, we came to the conclusion that those are not just shallow words restaurants put on their flags. The people behind them are a new generation of chefs investing their time and creativity in finding ways of preparing one-of-a-kind dishes with local and seasonal ingredients. To me, they are the drivers behind a shift of mindset. Sure, the producers are the important foundation without whom this would not be possible, but it’s chefs with their menus that open up this world to the people.
And lately, lots of people have complained to me about the transparency of good food. They ask, “What am I really paying for?”
Since food has become a mainstream interest, people have also become more critical about what a great food experience should be — and so have culinary entrepreneurs. This awareness paved the way for honest creative chefs and a wave of new authentic food experiences.
But as interest in food has risen, so too have the expectations and values. Meals are a complex experience. We look for quality of ingredients, for flavors, for presentation, for atmosphere. And with so many values to measure, transparency can get lost and diluted. Which is exactly why simple but deeply honest concepts — like the farm-to-table experience championed by Prado in Lisbon — are on the rise.
Prado turned an old can fabrication plant in the hills of Lisbon into a casual, vibey place that sticks to its favor for the most natural local ingredients — from plate, to interior — and brings some international influence from Galapito’s time in London.
The restaurant is ultra cool, it’s fun, has great atmosphere, and even better food and wines… but most importantly its a place where you’ll eat once and want to come back for every meal. Make sure you pass by when you are in Lisbon.
“We have a lot of bases that we use, so its almost like building a house: Where you have the foundations and then just add block by block, layer by layer.” — Galapito
So what can we learn from thriving farm-to-table concepts like Prado where dishes and flavors match as perfectly as they come together in the wild, season by season?
That food can be part of a future driven thinking for one, and that taking the time and effort to look more closely at what our surroundings give us supports the growth and return of farmers, boasts local knowledge and dismisses long product travel. We’ve learned that nature and restaurants can be in symbioses.
“I believe we have to re-connect more with nature again, its part of our responsibility as people that walk the earth, it’s about legacy and what we have to leave to our future.”