Chef Olivier

\\ Text Andreia Filipa Ferreira
\\ Photography

The touch of finesse in the Portuguese restaurant industry

With a keen sense of humour, Olivier da Costa is one of the best-known names in the Portuguese restaurant industry. With nine standout restaurants to his name, well known in the Portuguese capital, the adventurous and even competitive chef celebrates 20 years of an intense and creative career with a menu stuffed with successes. Seeing himself as a chef-entrepreneur or restaurateur, admitting his focus on business, Olivier fondly remembers the times when he delighted in the cooking of his grandparents, as well as proudly highlighting the career of his father, Michel da Costa. «My father, who has a more artistic vein, while mine is more entrepreneurial, was important in the development and growth of this passion for cooking», he explains. A lover of fine food and with a special fondness for the city of Lisbon, the chef who loves to create new concepts, always with meticulous attention to aspects such as architecture, the design of the space and the decoration itself of the interiors, tells us about a journey of dedication and persistence, joined by a spirit of glamour, good taste and immense passion for the restaurant business.

Adventurous by nature, Olivier da Costa has shown his entrepreneurial spirit ever since his youth. «My first gastronomic enterprise was cooking picanha beef for friends at a fixed price on the esplanade of the Castle of São Jorge. A spectacular setting and an idea that sold really well. But before that, I did a lot of things: I sold t-shirts at school, carnival ‘firecrackers’...,» recalls the chef, recounting the shenanigans with firecrackers that saw him admitted to hospital. Plucky as ever, Olivier slowly created his own empire, always respecting his family’s gastronomic heritage and exacting rigour, professionalism and competence. «This has always been a major concern in all my businesses. Products and services have to be excellent», he explains, before adding: «It’s not always easy to work with me because of these very characteristics of a perfectionist, but you can rest assured that with me you will achieve good results and enjoy success. I am very confident. A confidence that I believe is healthy. And I’m a rebel, but not in the bad sense. I say ‘no’ when I think it is necessary. I am upfront and sincere», he reveals.


\\ Photography Direitos Reservados

Adventurous by nature, Olivier da Costa has shown his entrepreneurial spirit ever since his youth. «My first gastronomic enterprise was cooking picanha beef for friends at a fixed price on the esplanade of the Castle of São Jorge. A spectacular setting and an idea that sold really well. But before that, I did a lot of things: I sold t-shirts at school, carnival ‘firecrackers’...,» recalls the chef, recounting the shenanigans with firecrackers that saw him admitted to hospital. Plucky as ever, Olivier slowly created his own empire, always respecting his family’s gastronomic heritage and exacting rigour, professionalism and competence. «This has always been a major concern in all my businesses. Products and services have to be excellent», he explains, before adding: «It’s not always easy to work with me because of these very characteristics of a perfectionist, but you can rest assured that with me you will achieve good results and enjoy success. I am very confident. A confidence that I believe is healthy. And I’m a rebel, but not in the bad sense. I say ‘no’ when I think it is necessary. I am upfront and sincere», he reveals.

With a career that began with a professional internship at the Hotel Ritz Four Seasons in Lisbon, the dynamic nature of which he has striven to instil in the Olivier Group, the Lisbon-born chef sees himself today as a dedicated entrepreneur. «I tend to say that I am a chef-entrepreneur or restaurateur. A chef is especially interested in culinary excellence, in bringing creativity to his menus. An entrepreneur is more interested in the business. A restaurateur thinks about his business from A to Z, about the menu, the concept, the service, the uniforms, about every detail that has to do with the restaurant. Another way of putting this is to say that I like to create and to undertake things. My creative vein enables me to conceive each of my restaurants as a unique place», he explains. Seeing running a restaurant as a business, Olivier knows his customers like the back of his hand and, to stay profitable, all of his restaurants «strive to excel within their particular target range». But which restaurants actually boast the Olivier name? «At the moment, the Olivier Group has nine restaurants: Olivier Avenue, Guilty, KOB, Yakuza First Floor, Yakuza by Olivier, Pito do Bairro Reserva, Praia and Praia na Vila, while very shortly we intend to open Absurd. Not to mention other projects in the portfolio», the chef elucidates. With a special affection for Olivier Avenue, with its elegant and romantic décor and a Mediterranean-inspired cuisine featuring a tasting menu containing anything from exclusive Kobe beef to linguini with parmesan and black truffle, Olivier stands out as a leading national figure within the gastronomic arena.


\\ Photography Direitos Reservados

In line with the growth of the Portuguese capital itself, even predicting the current tourist wave that has brought more luxury stores, new hotels and redevelopment projects to the city, the Olivier Group has excelled in the national market, even without ever having been awarded a Michelin star. «Getting a star has never been a goal. I do not believe in Michelin stars as a business model. I’m more focused on in being more fashionable in what we offer. This is because, in terms of business, a star never translates into attracting customers for a target that I consider to be profitable. Quite the contrary. It scares them away. Personally, no Michelin-starred restaurant is a restaurant that I feel like going back to often. They have great service and you eat very well, but it is not a restaurant that you would want to go every day», he says.

With a varied menu, as well as venues bearing his signature, chef Olivier keeps on creating new concepts based on the influences he draws from his travels or personal research. But, at the end of the day, there is nothing that gives him more pleasure than the words of satisfaction uttered by his customers. «What really gives me joy is to hear from the mouths of my customers that my restaurants provide a real experience, whisking them away from Lisbon to other places and cities around the world», concludes Olivier.


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