Traveler's Choice

Chef Vitor Matos

Memories of my childhood

Chef Vitor Matos childhood food

The characteristics of my cuisine would be different had my story been a different one; had there been different memories and experiences in my past.

As the son of emigrants, leaving the home country that I loved very early on meant that the feelings I experienced, throughout my childhood and adolescence were decidedly ambivalent. On the one hand, nostalgic memories of the little village where I was born and on the other, a fascination with the new world beyond it.

Anyone who has been subjected to this kind of separation understands what I’m talking about. When we’re abroad, time acquires another dimension, the days are longer, and have a different rhythm. Memories are more intense and dramatic, the heart is always more anguished, and the soul exaggerates details that are normally banal. We count the days until we can go home for the holidays. Our memories of Portugal are constant, be they of family left behind, of friends, of the fun times, or even of the freezing cold winter and the sweltering hot summer.

And the food? Oh, the food! There is nothing like the food from our homeland.

The produce, the flavours, and the smells of my grandmother´s dishes, so simple and yet so difficult to recreate, sources of inspiration from a full life, and memories that I carry with me to this day.

I can remember the cotton candy from the traditional festivals, delicate cotton strings, soft and light which, at a time when there was little money available for food, was a true luxury. It was the hardships that made us leave, but we retained a great deal of affection for home, and maybe that is why we longed for it so much.

From my time in Switzerland, I will never forget the colourful beauty of the green hills, where cows graze happily, and whose jingling cowbells I will always remember. I also remember my immediate attraction to the wide range of traditional sweets, in particular the “Caramel à la creme au beurre Salé”, a homemade delicacy notable for its simplicity.

My first steps in the culinary world, were to literally follow my mother around in the kitchen, especially, when I came home from school and observed the bustling dinner preparations. It was a sort of experimental and not always successful cuisine, where I gathered the ingredients together and mixed them all up, without following any particular rules.

From then on, I continued to improve myself by developing ideas, selecting produce, improving my techniques, refining my palate and adding experiences to my development, as an individual and as a professional.

I invite you to discover… The memories of my childhood.

Vitor Matos