Marlene Vieira is the only Portuguese woman chef competing for the podium at fine dining experiences in Portugal. It can be troublesome to be a strong woman in a conservative industry like the food one, especially in an old-fashioned and misogynist country such as Portugal. However, as the Portuguese say, "a woman from the north" is born with extra strength and the ability to fight. Marlene Vieira has that muscle, and earlier this year opened a gastronomic restaurant aiming for a Michelin Star. Marlene, – the restaurant's name is exactly like this, with a coma – is an elegant stage for this chef's work. At the centre of the restaurant, the ethereal kitchen illuminates like a holy altar, leaving the rest of the space in half-light. One can choose from two different tasting menus representing the story of her life and her experiences, but above all, challenging the status quo that other fine dining restaurants have been following. She does not approach produce and recipes with the well-behaved vibe most haute cuisine restaurants in Portugal do. Crawling between dishes, one can see she is knowledgeable, down-to-earth, ballsy, and above all things, connected to her roots. At the beginning of her path in this new project, I tasted a Goose Barnacles Tart with Codium and Planetree, a very polished snack. A comforting Spring dish made with Broad Beans, Morilles, and Sheep Butter, and a disruptive meat dish: Fatty Milky Lamb cooked on Live Coal and served with its Sweetbreads, Roasted Onions Purée, and Pickled Chard. Marlene Vieira is a pillar and an example for young women cooks out there, but one can not ignore she is not only standing next to the big boys but has overcome most of them.
Portuguese open kitchen fine dining by chef Marlene Vieira