One of Portugal’s biggest culinary names, José Avillez was the first Portuguese chef to garner 2 Michelin stars. Along with his seven restaurants, he is also a successful author and television presenter
OOKING HAS always been a passion for José Avillez, born in the seaside resort of Cascais in 1979, but it was only in the senior year of his Business Communication degree that he decided to become a chef. The decision proved to be life-changing, and today, the name Avillez is synonymous with Portuguese gastronomic excellence and true entrepreneurial spirit.
Among the many trips, traineeships and professional experiences he undertook after finishing his degree, the most pivotal included the apprenticeship under Antoine Westermann at Fortaleza do Guincho, his training at Alain Ducasse’s culinary school, working under Eric Frechon at Le Bristol in Paris and, most career-altering of all, the traineeship at El Bulli under Ferran Adrià.
Back in Lisbon, his first Michelin star came in 2009, little more than a year after taking on the role of head chef at the renowned Tavares restaurant. He left after three years and renovated the iconic Belcanto, located in the affluent Chiado neighbourhood, turning it into one of the world’s best restaurants and garnering the city’s first 2 Michelin stars. He was also the first Portuguese chef to win the accolade.
With various successful ventures, including Cantinho do Avillez (in Lisbon and Porto), Café Lisboa, Pizzaria Lisboa, Mini Bar and the brand new Bairro do Avillez, the chef boasts a take-away service and his own wine label, JA, in partnership with José Bento dos Santos. He is also the author of several successful books and the presenter of television and radio cooking shows, making him one of the country’s best-loved personalities.