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The renowned Portuguese chef and restaurateur was supposed to become an architect but he ended up becoming a top Michelin star awarded chef. He now counts with an empire (although he does not like this word) of more than 30 restaurants that keeps on growing. For José there are only two types of cuisine: either good or bad. His signature dishes result from accumulated memories and experiences that shape who he is as a chef and how he perceives the world around him. All the travels José made, the scents he experienced, the flavors he tasted, all the landscapes he saw, all the heartbreaks he felt are present in his dishes and in his path. His cooking style, contemporary and Portuguese-inspired has earned him several national and international recognitions, including 2015’s “Chef of the Year” by WINE magazine. He has greatly helped put Portugal in the map as a top culinary destination.
José spent his childhood in Cascais near the sea but with a feeling of countryside, since the house had a vegetable garden and a bunch of animals like chickens and rabbits. When the time came to choose a degree, he almost enrolled in architecture but, instead, he studied Business Communication at ISCEM (the Portuguese Higher Institute of Business Communication), with a thesis dedicated to the study of the identity and image of Portuguese gastronomy. He started his career at the Fortaleza do Guincho restaurant in Cascais, Lisbon. He worked at Quinta do Monte d’Oiro with José Bento dos Santos, an eminent Portuguese gastronome, who played a decisive role in the launch of young José Avillez in the world of cuisine. He also attended study sessions with Maria de Lourdes Modesto, a huge reference in Portuguese traditional cooking.
Between internships and work trips, José went through the kitchens of the world’s greatest masters, such as Alain Ducasse, Éric Fréchon and Ferran Adrià. In 2005, after a dinner he prepared at Hotel Bristol in Paris, he was received the “Chef d’Avenir” prize by the International Academy of Gastronomy, composed of representatives from over 40 countries. In the second half of that year, he joined the El Bulli in Roses team, in Barcelona, for a professional internship. From 2008 to 2011, José was the executive chef at the Lisbon restaurant ‘Tavares’. There, in 2009, he received, for the first time, a Michelin star. In the beginning of 2012, José Avillez opened the fully renovated ‘Belcanto’ restaurant, which won a Michelin star that same year. In 2014, Belcanto earned its second Michelin star and in 2015 it was considered one of the best restaurants in the world.
Today, he is the only Portuguese chef with more than 30 restaurants employing more than 1000 people. Besides the restaurants, José writes and co-writes cook an recipes books, participates in TV and Radio programs and is the creator of a wine line.
‘I have great business partners, I have an amazing team and that’s the only reason why I can do what I do.’