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A Well-Travelled Chef

December 6, 2011 - 3:13pm
Ljubomir Stanisic was born in what was still Yugoslavia. Today, as the founder and manager of Bistro 100 Maneiras, he is one of the most respected head chefs in Portugal. Aged only 33, he has already won various awards and honours.

Ljubomir Stanisic was born in Belgrade on 8th June 1978, in what was still Yugoslavia. Today, as the founder and manager of Bistro 100 Maneiras in the Chiado district of Lisboa, he is one of the most respected head chefs in Portugal.

Stanisic began his career in 1994 as a student of food chemistry at the Hemijsko Tehnoloski Obrazonvi Centar. In 1997 he dropped out of the course and “that’s when it all began...”

Still in Belgrade, the chef (whose inspiration is his mother Rosa) entered Bozidar Adzija People’s University in 1995 to study bakery and pastry-making, and in 1997 he extended his horizons to international cuisine. In 1995/96 he became assistant pastry chef at Bobe, and in the following year he was assistant pastry chef at Skadarlija.

Saddened by what was happening in his country – the political turbulence triggered by the death of Tito – Ljubomir Stanisic decided to travel around Europe. When he arrived in Portugal 14 years ago he immediately fell in love with the country and its cuisine.

Molejas com cebolas negras BistroHe recalls that the first dish he tried was “sopa de cação (dogfish soup), near Estremoz, in the Borba region”. He was “fascinated by the flavour of the garlic and the herbs”, which may be why the cuisine of the Alentejo is one of his favourites, along with that of northern Portugal and all the inland regions.

Stanisic proclaims that traditional Portuguese cuisine is “one of the richest in Europe”. Unlike the gastronomy of other countries, which has changed with the influence of cultures introduced by immigrants, Portuguese gastronomy has evolved without abandoning its roots. “Portuguese cuisine doesn’t need to change because it is already very good”, he explains.

From among his favourite Portuguese dishes, which he numbers in hundreds, he highlights Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato (clams with olive oil and garlic), Papas de Serrabulho (black pudding mash), Sopa de Cação (dogfish soup), Alheira (chicken/game and bread sausage), Sopa de Funcho dos Açores (Azores fennel soup), Bacalhau à Braz (salt cod with scrambled eggs) and Migas Alentejanas (an Alentejo fried bread and pork dish).

Stanisic says that his signature cuisine is both futuristic and retro: “It is futuristic in the sense that I’m obliged to create new things, which makes me want to stay in the kitchen – I have to cook more and do more research. The retro aspect obviously means I am always seeking out the roots - I’m very concerned with the roots. I don’t do halfway; for me there’s no halfway, I’m always looking ahead. I do both retro and futuristic”.

Ljubomir StanisicA La Carte Awards
Just as “big men can’t be measured by their size”, so chefs can’t be measured by their age. Ljubomir Stanisic, aged only 33, has already won various awards and honours.

In 2005 he was elected Best Head Chef of the Year by Néctar magazine, and his restaurant 100 Maneiras, then located in the Hotel Albatroz in Cascais, was considered by Q magazine to be one of the ten best restaurants in Portugal. In 2007, the same restaurant was named Best Contemporary Cuisine Restaurant by Veja magazine and, in 2008, his wine list was among the top three in Portugal.

In 2007 Stanisic received the medal of merit for entrepreneurship and development of culture and tourism from Cascais mayor António Capucho. In the same year he was hailed by food critic Rafael Santos as one of the most creative chefs working in Portugal.

Ljubomir Stanisic travels for professional reasons but also because he likes it – he has been flying since he was 12 or 13 year old. Lisboa Airport is his favourite airport in Portugal, especially after the recent refurbishment. It has good access routes, ser-vices, catering and shopping facilities, as well as rest and leisure areas. Would it be a good place for a restaurant? “I would love to open a restaurant at Lisboa Airport”...

Ljubomir StanisicInnovative in ideas as well as in the kitchen, Stanisic says that Lisboa Airport “would really benefit from a top-notch restaurant”. His personal experience tells him that due to the time passengers spend in airports, often because of delays to connecting flights, it’s worth having a proper restaurant. “I don’t mean modern, contemporary cuisine, but accessible cuisine, with a really good salmon or goat’s meat sandwich, for example”. “If I could have a really good meal while waiting four or five hours for a plane and there was a really good restaurant where I could eat well, my journey would be much nicer because I wouldn’t be so hungry”, he concludes.

Ljubomir sees the airport as a showcase for the world to see the best of the country: “It’s a terminal for people to pass through – anything that’s done there, provided it’s well done, can have a big impact”, he emphasises. The chef therefore does not dismiss the idea of displaying his talents at one of the Portuguese airports…

Coxas de rã BistroLjubomir Stanisic describes some of his airport adventures. He has often fallen asleep in the departure lounge while waiting for a flight: “I turn the seats into beds”, he smiles. The last time was in Barcelona. When this happens there’s only one solution: buy new tickets – “Money is for spending... I’ve only once persuaded them to change the ticket, and that was at Lisboa”.

With so much experience, the chef now even awards “Michelin stars” to the airports with the best Economy Class seats for resting in a horizontal position: Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Frankfurt (Germany).