The new restaurant by the renowned chef takes guests on an international journey
Leonel Pereira is an internationally renowned chef, who stood out in the Algarve at the helm of the São Gabriel restaurant, in Almancil, which held a Michelin star prior to its closing last year. Though the closing of this Algarvean icon is far from a tragedy — rather, it was a choice. Pereira decided to venture onto a new project, launching the new CHECKin restaurant, at Faro’s Avenida da República.
According to the chef, CHECKin is a “trendy, modern and relaxed restaurant, with a simple production and [a place] where we can present all types of food”. Above all, the concept is based on sharing: “The idea is for people to share three or four small dishes and get to know more about us and what we do,” he explains.
“The menu starts with Check-in snacks — the appetisers with clear Brazilian, French, Peruvian and even Algarvean influences. Next come My Mum’s Treats, with recipes typical of Serra do Caldeirão and Martim Longo, where I was born. These are things I used to eat when I came home from school, and they bring back a lot of memories,” the chef explains. “Then we have Special Moments, which strongly represent the Algarve region. Finally, the Check-out is made up of desserts, where we travel to the islands, with Azorean pineapple, for example.” The menu will change often, and it will get an upgrade probably every month. “My advice is to enjoy the moment, because you may not have another chance,” Pereira cautions.
For the chef, the most important part of cooking is people’s health: “I always get the most out of every product’s natural fat and the vegetables are cooked al dente and respectfully. Our range is very light and uses as little sugar, fat and salt as possible,” he assures. The dishes are complemented by the cellar featuring over 80 labels “with an emphasis on all regions of Portugal,” he says.
As for the ambition to win new awards, the philosophy is the same: “In all my projects, I never aimed to win prizes, although I have won several here and even in Brazil. The prizes appeared, but they are not what moves me. What moves me is the madness of cooking. The awards are just a consequence of that,” he says with a smile.