Diogo Noronha


"I am always looking for local ecological suppliers and lots of sustainability in everything"


 What made you want to become a chef?

When I was 17, I changed my diet. I was a vegetarian, vegan and macrobiotic for 10 years and I had to start cooking with more attention to products and recipes. Well, the natural culmination of that was a change in my professional life. After university (social communications), I travelled to Asia and I was already keenly interested in gastronomy. I began to work in hostelry to make some money to continue travelling and, then, I went to New York to study a little more and from that point I started to work in restaurants.

What is your first memory of a dish that made you dream?
Not one particular dish, more memories of what I ate, particularly in my maternal grandparents' house.
Who has influenced you in your cooking style or philosophy?
Well, the path taken with my vegetarian diet. I am always looking for local suppliers (ecological where possible) and lots of sustainability in everything. Lots of respect for the product, its quality and freshness. In my technique, well, all the kitchens where I have worked have influenced me. Sous-vide with the Rocas; details and the search for perfection with Thomas Keller; and total dedication to the product with Jordi Villa.
What inspires you? or Where does your inspiration come from?
Everything inspires me! Nature and the seasons. My references from Chefs past and present, and, often, little details in the day-to-day, customers and childhood memories.
What is your favourite culinary method or technique?
Well, the one I think is going to stick with me for life is sous-vide: proteins, greens and a little bit of everything.

What is your favourite ingredient?
I like working with fish and vegetables a lot, in general.
What is your favourite cooking utensil?
Knife, spoon and good pots and pans.

What material do you prefer for your pans and saucepans?
Stainless steel and cast aluminium.

What would you like to change about the cooking schools?
In Portugal, well, work a little more on Portuguese cuisine and modern techniques. Try to change the idea a little that guys and girls have about hostelry when they leave school. But to accomplish that, the industry would have to change a little. I think many of us chefs are working on this. There are many chefs nowadays with passion and spirit.
Your advice for young chefs.
Lots of work and dedication, spirit and focus. Some self-sacrifice as with everything in life, I believe.

What do you look for when you hire someone for your restaurant?
People who are motivated, professional, passionate, and have team spirit and attitude. The rest comes along in no time.

How do you motivate your team?
With dedication, good products, technique, development and a good working environment. I make room for the personality and attitude of each of them once we are working constructively.

What would you like to change in the catering industry?
A little more 'me time' for everyone. The work/life balance is very important and it is difficult to find in this industry. I think it needs to be a joint effort.
What do you do when you have difficult guests?
We try to treat them even better so that they leave the restaurant with a feeling of respect and so they can return with a different attitude.

Where do you like to get away to relax?
The sea, listening to music and travelling.
What pushes you to keep on going?
An attitude of wanting to be better every day and creating teams to achieve that. Spirit and dedication to achieve a sustainable relationship with nature.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
I am proud of all of them. Each in their own way. There are mistakes but they are a part of your journey if you can appreciate them.

What is your favourite restaurant?
'Relae', 'L’astrance', 'Pierre Gagnaire', 'Septime, St John’s', 'Bar Tartine', 'Mugaritz', 'Osteria Francescana', 'Eleven Madison' and 'Marque' are some of the ones I like. 

Which current chef do you most admire and why?
I do not have just one but several. Pascal Barbot, Rene Redzepi, Pierre Gagnaire, Joan Roca, Ferran Adría and Andoni, among many others around the world.

How do you think restaurants should be classified? 
With less politics and more feeling and pleasure.