The passion for cooking of Nuno Bárbara, 34 years old, from Lagos, Algarve, is evident to all who come in contact with him. With an open mind, an easy-flowing conversation and a unique ability to make his guests feel like old friends, Nuno is one of Eat at a Local’s most enthusiastic hosts.
His love for food and cooking began with his grandmother, “a housewife, the good old fashioned way”, with whom he spent most of his childhood. She taught him to do everything, even sewing. He proudly says that he can beat his girlfriend in any domestic chore. From his grandmother’s kitchen he remembers the “smell of old” that fascinates him so much today and takes him back to his childhood. There are also vivid memories of this time, such as scalping a fish with a traditional wooden instrument that resembled a tennis racket with spiked nails, or making green broth on the ancient machines that existed for that purpose at the time.
According to him, being from the Algarve means that it is almost “mandatory” to be trained in hospitality and tourism, two of the main economic activities of the region, so its no wonder that he chose to make a career out of it. With a graduation in Food and Beverage Management from the Estoril’s Superior School of Hospitality and Tourism, he almost immediately began his career in the restaurant/catering area. After finishing his studies, he helped manage 2 well known bars in Lagos, from where he left in 2012 towards London, to work in the kitchen and help manage some of the best fine dining Asian restaurants in the city.
He stayed in London for 5 years in total, although only 2 years after his arrival he began to feel the need to change something in his life. The constant and intense pressure felt at a professional level, and the “lack of humanity” in dealing with employees, made him decide to return to Lagos, its origins. He returned to reconnect with himself amongst family and friends, and to contribute positively to the development of his home town.
Although his current main professional occupation is now far from the area of gastronomy (he manages a pool maintenance company), he is able to complement it by offering his services as a private chef for foreigners living in Lagos.
Eat at a Local’s came into his life through a Facebook post. His interest was immediate. The possibility of showing the Portuguese culture to those who do not know it or have a desire to get to know it better, and of sharing life experiences and interesting stories with Guests were the great motivations for him to register as Local Host.
There is a slight hesitation when answering the question “Is there any dish that you like to cook in special?”. He finally answers “Algarve is almost a synonim for fish”, so seafood and fish would necessarily have to be some of the dishes he likes to cook the most. Something that was made quite clear through the delicious meal he offered the Eat at a Local’s team during a recent visit: as starters, a tuna paté with fresh and intense flavors, served on crisp endive leaves and the typical horse mackerel; as main course an aromatic codfish with corn bread and for dessert the typical Olhão Sweet Bread (Folar) and some fine sweets so typical of the Algarve.
To his future guests he hopes to convey to them the pleasure he experiences in meeting new people, to teach them some secrets and recipes of the Portuguese gastronomy by getting them involved the confection of the meal, and to have them leave his house with a full stomach and soul.
Stay tuned for Nuno’s next experiences at Eat at a Local’s. We guarantee an unforgettable experience!