Portuguese chef Lúcia Ribeiro excelled abroad and is the driving force behind the project Mimo Algarve
Right at the entrance, on a wall covered in beautiful copper cataplanas, you can read: “Bom dia, Algarve. You’re looking delicious today.”
This welcoming inscription gets a smile from everyone entering the Mimo Algarve cooking school and gourmet shop, managed by chef Lúcia Ribeiro, 40, originally from Armação de Pera. Sitting at the chef ’s table, Lúcia shared with us her professional journey and her ambitions to revolutionise the gastronomic offer in this space at Pine Cliffs Resort, in Albufeira. She says she discovered cooking “later than usual” and perhaps, the maturity and focus that only age could bring can help explain the resounding success she achieved in a relatively short time.
Lúcia graduated in International Management in London, where she lived for over half her life, working in banking and the food industry before donning chef ’s whites. In 2012, happily married with two children and a stable life, she decided to risk it all and follow her instincts. She invested in a short cooking course in the Algarve and, encouraged by the trainers, returned to London, where she attended an Haute Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu. For years she worked with renowned names in the culinary world, such as Gordon Ramsay, Paul Walsh, Claude Bosi and Dieter Koschina.
“I developed a lot in London. After my training, I started working at one of Paul Walsh’s restaurants as commis chef. I felt I had arrived in a world dominated by aggressive men, half my age, and who knew much more than me. It took me a month to adapt and realise I could do the same as them in less time,” Lúcia reveals. “I am very organised, disciplined and, above all, I knew what I wanted. I messed up a lot, cried plenty, and had many sleepless nights. I had to give up my personal and family life but, with a lot of sacrifice, I managed to get where I am today.”
Her London résumé opened the door for her return to Portugal, where she worked with Dieter Koschina at Vila Joya, before being invited to head the team of the Mimo Algarve project, in the summer of 2018.
“No other cooking school in Portugal does what we do at Mimo,” Lúcia states. “I want to bring back traditional flavour based on local produce and promote typical Portuguese gastronomy with a fine-dining twist to residents and tourists; to showcase our true flavour and tradition!”
Besides being a gourmet shop, Mimo Algarve also hosts daily cooking classes, wine tastings, gastronomic nights and cookery demonstrations. Throughout this year, the Portuguese chef has also helped prepare the teams for Mimo London, which opened in March, as well as Mimo Tenerife and Mallorca.
Header Photo: ©Miguel Jimenez Fernandez