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Discover all our Chefs
Relais & Châteaux Chef

Fábio Fernandes

Chef - Relais & Châteaux

Fábio Fernandes

Secret Bay

Portsmouth - Dominica

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Chef Relais & Châteaux

How did you become a Chef?

From an early age, I was curious to approach the stove to see my mother cooking; she was my first influence.

As a child at the age of 12, I started to study cooking and pastry.  At 18, I found refuge and cooking was my salvation from a worse path in life. I always loved to cook but at 24 I failed as a chef and I re-started my journey, I changed my life and faced an immigrant life in a new kitchen with a hard environment that I almost gave up.   After that experience, everything at the professional level became certain.  Now at 29 years old I have already accomplished an international trajectory. I worked in Portugal, England, Austria, Africa and now USA.

I had professional internships with Nuno Manuel Diniz at the York House hotel, Belcanto with 2-Michelin Jose Avillez and Hotel Hilton by Andre Simoes.

In my career, I went to regional and classic restaurants. I worked in the top 50 (9th) best gastropubs in England in 2016.

I worked for a great Argentine chef “Chackall” who was a great visionary. Recently I was at HBD on Prince Island; Sundy Praia one of the top 10 unique lodges of the world by the National Geographic.

I remember at 19, looking out the window, and seeing the reactions that customers had when they saw the dishes coming, the reaction of the tasting. I have a huge passion for cooking and being able to offer a meal that stimulates sensations, in the palate and visual level in a healthy way. This is one of the reasons for being part of this world.

How would you define your cuisine?

The fundamentals of my cuisine are preserving all food flavors by cooking at low temperature, enhancing the flavor with local spices and herbs, adding brines and marinades without forgetting the local flavors that are increasingly used around the world.  Also participating in the zero-waste movement waste is something all chefs have a general obligation.

Bold and creative with respect for the product

My biggest culinary influence has been Portugal.  It has a millenary gastronomic history of the Mediterranean diet, with products from A to Z to leave any palate with curiosity,

I worked with great chefs with international experiences who taught me how to make French, English, Argentine and African cuisine. I am also a fan of Italian and Japanese food.

I base myself on fusion cuisine and optimize an experience in all aspects.

I have several references but there were two that helped me a lot to create myself. My first chef “Simão Markovitch” who was the one who turned the student into an apprentice and who taught me the basics of good cooking and the second one, was one of my teachers, “Horácio Pinto.”  A wise man who during the year was saying that I could be the best but that I didn't want to.

In my worst moments that phrase appeared in my mind, it took me more than four years to turn the paradigm, but I succeeded.

Many thanks Masters.

Hard work always pays off; we don't need to be the best but to do well and strive for it is a genius step.

And in the future, it will take us further.

Working in Africa was the best experience I had. I developed my human side, became more rational. It was an island where we can be happy without anything. A place that would be forever in my heart.

What are your favourite products and criteria for choosing?

My class of favorite ingredients is based on fish and aromatic herbs.

Need to be Organic, local and super fresh.

I love tonka beans and lavender in desserts.

At this moment there is a global commitment, which involves zero waste.

Extend the life span of foods through fermentations and dehydration is just a start.

I always try to create WIN-WIN relationships with local suppliers to help us have a better product which is excellent for the local economy as well.

What is your signature?

I still can't answer this question.

 I'm still young, I'm still growing in this field, I'm an apprentice, I'm a mixture of everything I saw and what I learned from my masters on my journey.

I make simple dishes with international influences I use local products, I value their freshness and presentation, always respecting the cycle.

There is cruelty behind the food, doing something extremely creative makes me feel that death is not in vain and will make someone feel good.

What professions surround you and what would you like to pass on to them?

A good question, there is no right formula and there are different ways to teach because not everyone learns the same way, the best way to teach is to show first.

We can see what we don't want for ourselves, we can see who is a good and bad reference, so leading by example becomes a correct way for me, if we put an extra dose of energy and passion into everything we do, explaining and passing the knowledge is part of officio, wanted interested and motivated people makes the game more fun and engaging.

This profession is beautiful, passionate. Take from us one world and offer us another. Chefs know what I’m talking about.

This profession requires sacrifice, resilience, extreme dedication and organization, in addition to the hours of work that can exceed 14 a day for those who want to learn faster, People make mistakes because they don't ask, forget if they don't point out, having a notebook will be essential can be a friend.

Clean working area will be mandatory,

Being a good listener make any life easier, I will repeat a good listener...

Effort and dedication, doing more than you did yesterday, entering in the kitchen at 200% daily, Any chef has to work as much or more than the team so for those who want to ascend remember that you have to set an example and above all show that they are capable to inspire teams as well ,forget the beautiful 9 h a day…

Professionals who want to ascend, better work twice as much, wrong attitudes, lack of respect for colleagues and toxic comments are not tolerated.

Do you have a Chef’s tip for Sunday cooking?

For your Sunday Steaks      

Dry brining:

Buy some good rib-eye steaks on Friday.

Place in the cold in a rack with aluminum foil underneath on a plate, season generously with salt and ground black pepper, leave between 48 and 72 hours. leave it uncovered.

Reverse sear:

On Sunday preheat the oven to 275 F / 135 Celsius D, sanitize the tray and place it in the oven with the racket and steak covered in aluminum foil for approximately 50 min.

Remove from the oven and after 15 min uncover the meat.

Put a drizzle of olive oil as soon as you start to see smoke put the meat and seal for 1 min when turning it, place 2 generous spoons of butter, thyme, rosemary and 3 garlic cloves, crushed with the skin and a bay leaf, after 1 min is ready, cut into thin slices and season with salt flakes and black pepper.

Les restaurants Relais & Châteaux de Fábio Fernandes