From a very early age, as a child, André Gerardo walked around his father’s kitchens and restaurants, peeling potatoes, and even making toasted bread. This was the beginning of his still short life as a chef, where he already reveals a lot of experience and a great capacity to create powerful flavors accompanied by textures that elevate all the senses. After going through recognized kitchens, he learned techniques that he reveals in his unique gastronomy.
Is it true that your first cooking experience was peeling potatoes?
That’s right. I was almost born in a kitchen, and instead of being in a cart, I remember being in the plastic beverage cartons. My parents have catering businesses and, as, most of the time, I didn’t have anyone to stay with, I went with them to work; he was 8 years old and already peeling potatoes and toasting bread. I lived that environment a lot and I liked it, so it was inevitable to study Cooking.
How was your academic journey?
I took a professional course, degree and master’s degree at the Escola Superior de Hotelaria e Turismo do Estoril, where I still teach. I also did a master’s degree in Innovation and Culinary Arts and did many workshops. I believe that training is very important to develop skills in all sectors and, about cooking, studying is a constant. I didn’t go to study cooking by mistake; I knew it wouldn’t be an easy journey because personal life often takes a backseat, but it’s a gift to be producing something for other people to savor with pleasure. Eating is one of the most beautiful acts that exist in human beings.
That’s why there are so many events where food is the main character.
Customers are increasingly looking for gastronomic experiences that will stay in their memory, whether through catering services or in restaurants. At Imppacto, where I am currently, customers go beyond the services we provide and often ask for a format inspired by poets, localities, meat-free consumption, dishes with insects and other situations. Each request is almost a master’s thesis; it is necessary to investigate and study the theme in depth to then create it. It’s a constant challenge.
What were the main places you visited?
After graduating, I did an internship at the Hotel D. Pedro, in Lisbon, both at the coffee shop and at the Italian restaurant Il Gattopardo, I went through the Hotel Palácio, in Estoril, on an internship, and I was also at the Altis Belém, at the Mensagem coffee shop and at Feitoria – here I was given responsibilities so that I felt that the place was mine too, I felt like part of the team and not an intern. Chef João Rodrigues has a very distinctive way of looking at cuisine, just look at Matéria, a project he founded, and which unites us all, producers and consumers.
You had an unusual experience cooking at a music festival.
Yes, it was Cozinha do Rock and it was very interesting, we were at the stand of the large Continente supermarket, and we had to show an unusual cuisine to the public that was at Rock in Rio, it was a kind of MasterChef, but faster. The festivalgoers had to cook the dishes in twenty minutes, it was a very interesting and funny experience, and we even enjoyed the festival shows.
After the restaurants, you take over the kitchen of a catering company. Any reason to switch?
When I did the master’s degree in Innovation and Culinary Arts, I took part in a very interesting experience which was to develop dishes around the theme “A Saudade” and, among other sponsors, was Imppacto. It was very interesting because we involved all the senses in this gastronomic experience. And so began my relationship with this catering company; for some time, I collaborated punctually. Then, as of April 1, 2022, I became a full-time executive chef. It’s interesting because our services, or organization of parties, are a little out of the box and we can serve meals in private homes, anywhere from north to south of the country and we have our space in Quinta da Pimenteira, in Lisbon, in Monsanto. Services can only be for two people, and we are prepared to go up to 5000 if necessary.
What can you know about out-of-the-box gastronomic experiences?
At Imppacto we are developing new kitchen concepts; what we want is to involve all the senses in a single moment, which is the act of eating. The eyes are the first to eat and, before the fork reaches the mouth, the eyes have tasted. Then, when the fork reaches the mouth, there is an explosion of flavors and, if we have crunchy elements, there is also the auditory function. We often use different textures so that the mouthfeel is different. This is very interesting, especially in thematic services. We also create tableware for these and other occasions, for example weddings, which makes the experience more memorable.
It also develops workshops and experiments in a kind of laboratory.
Yes, we have the Food Design Lab, which is made up of an interdisciplinary team focused on gastronomy and design for the development of products, services, and experiences. It is a space for experimentation, collaboration and knowledge sharing with our partners and customers, and is open to anyone interested in gastronomy. Here, our goal is to provide experiences that remain in everyone’s memory.
Is earning a Michelin star important to you?
I believe that we all try to progress in our careers as much as we can, and if there is a possibility of earning a Michelin star, that’s good, of course. Now that is out of the question, because there is no such award for chefs who work in catering. But my goal is to have my own restaurant one day, and if I manage to earn a Michelin star, it will be excellent; if I can’t, I’m not worried, what has to be, will be. I have to live today and hope that tomorrow will be lived with greater intensity than what has already passed. I never planned anything, I never looked for anything, I let life take me with the wind; it’s living one day at a time because the moments and events come up.
What products do you like to work the most?
I don’t have a product of choice, above all I like to work with good products, whatever they may be. Increasingly, I use local and seasonal products, from national producers or micro-producers; it is important that we reach out to these people who need it so much and can provide us with differentiating and seasonal products.
Any author dish we can get to know better?
F Luxury‘s birthday menu was all authors. This publication awakened my senses because everything had to be sublime. But what I highlight as a signature dish is the grouper that was served. And what is the recipe? Very simple, we have to have the right team and a lot of affection and passion.