A Conversation shared at the table with our Chef Rui Martins

Now that the storm has subsided we can finally look back with some distance and reflect. How would you define these last months?

Rui Martins (RM): There is a saying: "after the storm, comes the bonanza!"
They were months of constant overcoming, day after day. Who knows what he wants, never loses hope, no matter how long the storm takes to pass.
To accept a difficult moment is the beginning to overcome it. This is how I define these last months.

What have been your main learnings these last few months?

RM: Difficulties are part of the human being's path, and even if they manifest themselves in different ways for each person, no one is free to go through delicate situations. There are many things that can happen and cause a real storm in a person's life.
The good news is that, loke the weather, storms pass and the sun always shines again. The landscape will never be the same, because it will have been modified.
We never know how strong we are, until being strong is the only option....

What do you expect from your kitchen team?

RM: A team that knows how to deal with the different characteristics of each element, that can reconcile individual interests, talk, and establish a relationship of trust between everyone, is primordial.
Communication, it's not just about being able to communicate, to speak clearly. A team only achieves good results if it knows how to listen.
The attitude is very important. Now, it is fundamental to have a pro-active attitude, that is, to be willing to help and to solve the difficulties that arise. This contributes to the development of the whole team, generates motivation and the will to make it happen in everyone. Creativity, act in an innovative way, escape the patterns in the solution and think in an original way / "out of the box".

What is your big goal for O Paparico kitchen?

RM: That it is always a restaurant of constant challenges, which motivates us every day. We know that the client who looks for us, expects us to be surprising.
For me, it is always to have something that surprises the customer. If I was having dinner at O Paparico as a client, I would be very happy to be surprised.
Let it be a restaurant of emotions.

Nature! A fundamental element in the creations and presentation of O Paparico monthly Menu. Do you want to explain a little bit how this selection of products works and why this approach?

RM: What defines our creation is in fact nature, the product. The rest are influences.
We are able to control the origin of our ingredients and that is what makes the difference. A product has to have the purpose of awakening feelings and experiences.
Portugal has an immense gastronomic value. We have to give value to the recipe, the seasons and the products.
For me it's simple! It doesn't make sense to have a product just for having it. It is necessary to understand nature to make it special and unique.
Those who don't look for it, hardly find it. We have to go after producers, suppliers, create knowledge and sharing.
Product, identity and consistency. This is the premise of our approach in every dish of O Paparico.

Imagine that you are talking to someone who doesn't know O Paparico. What would you say to him?

RM: Wait, trust and not know what will happen!

Who is Chef Rui Martins when nobody is watching?

RM: When you see him/heard him speak, it may seem as if he is arguing, because it imprints passion in the words. But no! He is simply defending his opinions, with enthusiasm.
He is agitated and emotional in the defense of his opinions, which may seem like he is always debating.
This passion is noticeable in everything he does, sometimes letting himself be carried away by instinct rather than reason.
As assertive as he is, he says what's on his mind, even if he reconsiders later. Impatient, he goes straight to the point. Despite his rebelliousness and temperament, he is a follower of people who prove to be worthy of his attention. Persistent and obstinate with what he does.
Work, rigor and perseverance is the motto. He assumes himself as passionate about his work. He says that the inspiration for cooking comes from his experiences, from the colors and smells that surround him, from his travels, but above all from his region: the Minho, where he claims there is an endless number of products to discover.
However, his origins are very present, because of everything he saw his grandmother do and the taste with which he did it (he knew he wanted to be a cook since then).
The constant creation and the search for something better every day is what guides his life. He affirms that the limits of his creations are the experiences, where he dares, experiments, creates and innovates, mixing everything with passion.
Without fear of innovating and being irreverent, he affirms that those who have never risked do not know what risk is and that the versatility of a product is inherent to the imagination of a cook, where anything is possible.
He ends by saying that "those who don't look for, hardly find it".

Translated by DeepL