Cláudio Cardoso is Executive Chef and at the helm of SUSHISAMBA London. While he shares a passion for cooking with many chefs, his culinary philosophy and approach separate him from his contemporaries. Upholding the motto, “challenge everything”, Cláudio is constantly refining his craft, a boldness and dedication showcased in his dishes.
This was no more evident than in late 2014 when SUSHISAMBA London was one of a fewrestaurants in the world certifiedto sell authentic Kobe beefby theJapanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Under Cláudio’s direction, the restaurant launched a Kobe beef programme, featuring London’s first everKobe Ishiyakiexperience.
Since joining the Samba Brands Management team in April 2013 at the age of 29, Cláudio has adapted seamlessly to the fast-paced atmosphere ofSUSHISAMBA. He runs the kitchen of SUSHISAMBA London with unrivalled passion and skill, and ensures each dish looks as beautiful as it tastes. Drawing from his knowledge of international cuisines and unique ingredients, Cláudio’s interpretation of the brand’s cuisine shines in inventive dishes such as Sea Bass Tempura, Picanha Tataki or Salmon and Foie Gras Seviche. The flavours of these dishes marry in an unimaginable way.
Cláudio has always been captivated by food. At an early age, he learned to appreciate cross-cultural cuisines and diverse flavours. Born and raised in South Africa, his family table often featured meals that showcased his mother’s South African favourites and his father’s Portuguese flare. His family was well regarded in the Portuguese food industry with a presence in everything from wineries to cereal farms and bakeries to honey production.
So, it was no surprise that at age 15, Cláudio pursued a formal culinary education at the Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies in Estoril, Portugal. There, he studied Kitchen and Pastry before enrolling in the Food Production and Restaurant Operations Honours degree program. Further complementing his formal education, Cláudio apprenticed at a myriad of popular restaurants and hotels, including the Lapa Palace Orient Express in Lisbon, Sheraton Hotel in Bahrain, where he cooked for His Majesty The King, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek, South Africa.
Before graduating, Cláudio worked behind-the-scenes at several restaurants in Portugal, namely, Casa da Dízima, Quinta de Catralvos in Azeitão with Executive Chef Luís Baena, and as Head Chef at Hotel Solar dos Mascarenhas in Vila Viçosa.
Following the completion of his schooling, Cláudio was ready for his next big challenge. Having mastered a host of cuisines, he wanted to try something new and attained a position at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company at Midori, the oldest Japanese restaurant in Portugal. There, he devoted himself to acquiring the precision required to execute Japanese cooking techniques.
At the end of 2009, Cláudio travelled to Dubai for a unique opportunity to open both Burj Khalifa and The Armani Hotel. Shortly thereafter, he accepted a position at the Sushi Café Avenida. There, he collaborated with the restaurant’s creative team to incorporate innovative molecular gastronomy techniques to enhance their existing menu. With Cláudio’s inventive approach, the menu drew in droves of patrons and the restaurant became a hotspot known for its high-end Japanese cuisine.
In 2011, Cláudio was asked to return to The Ritz-Carlton, Sintra as a Head Chef of their newest venture, Il Mercato. During this time, he also travelled to Italy, working with the Bvlgari Hotel, Milan, where he brought novel techniques and one-of-kind creations that were used throughout the group. After he completed the opening, he accepted an offer to take his work back to Midori in order to enhance the creative and technical capabilities of the kitchen staff.
Cláudio is always ready to embrace new culinary methods, but he never forgets the foundation of good food. Walking through markets, breathing fragrant aromas, and taking in vibrant colours helps him to realize his eclectic culinary visions. As an avid artist himself, he utilises his passion for colour, shapes and techniques to form his dishes. Everything regarding food should have a feel, not just using the five senses, but also stimulating the mind. His primary inspiration has always come from the people he meets and their cultures. He feels that his life as a Chef would not be as successful and complete without these experiences.
Accordingly, his passion extends beyond the kitchen with a true focus on the environment. Ensuring he gives back and not taking the planet for granted, he is fervent about recycling, utilising environmentally friendly products and bringing a sustainable approach to as many aspects of his work as possible. Cláudio believes chefs are the voice of the industry and they have a responsibility to educate both their staff and their guests in how they see and appreciate food.
Collaborating with the culinary team at Samba Brands Management, Cláudio’s influences are felt not only in London, but also in SUSHISAMBA locations in the United States, including New York, Miami and Las Vegas.
Describe your culinary philosophy in4words…
Devoted, motivated, creative, passionate
What is your greatest inspiration?
Nature is my greatest inspiration. It exists in so many different forms, colours and textures that its potential for sparking new ideas has no bounds.
If you could take a plane ride to anyrestaurantin the world, just for one meal, where would you go?
I would go to Alinea in Chicago. They offer a unique culinary experience that is both exciting and inspiring for their guests by introducing dishes that awaken every sense.
Whatfourthings would you take to a desert island?
My knives, my phone, my bodyboard and my fins – I would be a happy man!
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