Nuno Mendes

Nuno Mendes

The food Nuno Mendes was creating at Viajante was quite extraordinary. Dishes such as Cured lobster and charred leek, Lamb belly with milk skin and Green apple with shiso and maple demonstrated dazzling technical skill along with pioneering combinations of flavour. It was not just the hordes of eager punters who were won over – in 2011 the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star which it retained until the restaurant closed in 2014.

Upon leaving Viajante, Nuno took over the restaurant at the exclusive Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone. The restaurant (with a hotel and bar on the premises) was the brainchild of global hotelier André Balazs and quickly gained the same cult status as his other perennially popular celebrity hotspots, such as Chateau Marmont and The Mercer.

Nuno's reputation as the East End’s most inventive culinary mind did not disappoint the Chiltern Firehouse’s discerning clientele, and visitors were quickly won over by his flair. There is, perhaps, less of the avant-garde in the menus at the Chiltern Firehouse compared to the gastronomical Viajante, but Nuno's use of ingredients and flavour remain every bit as confident. Iberian influences are clear in his deft handling of fish and pork (think chargrilled Iberico pork with courgettes, or the much lauded monkfish dish, cooked over pine and served with puffed barley) while the crab doughnuts with coral dusting and maple-glazed salmon with smoked broth hint at the innovative streak that made him so revered.

With Chiltern Firehouse still pulling crowds and a few other projects coming and going, the capital’s appetite for Nuno's unique, stylish cuisine shows no sign of abating. The feeling, it seems, is mutual; the chef has travelled all his life in pursuit of cultural – and culinary – enlightenment, but it is in the vibrant melting pot of east London he that has truly found his home. It seems fitting then that his latest project – Mãos – is in the heart of Shoreditch. This sees Nuno going back to his roots, cooking three-hour seasonal tasting menus for a kitchen table of sixteen guests.

Three things you need to know

Nuno's least favourite ingredient is bananas – 'I can't stand the flavour or the texture,' he told the Good Food Guide.

Thanks to his time spent in New Mexico and San Francisco, Nuno is a huge fan of Mexican food, particularly tacos.

Nuno's biggest food inspiration is Pierre Koffmann.