Five minutes with… Nuno Goncalves

The executive head chef at Quaglino's on must-have ingredients, London eating and the art of being humble

Food and Drink 8 Jul 2019

Nuno Goncalves, executive head chef of Quaglino's

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given in your career?

To set myself a series of short-term and long-term goals that I want to achieve, and ensure all goals achieved are recorded, even the smallest of them. This helps you keep motivated and gives you a sense of achievement when times are tough.

Who is your role model and how have they influenced you in your work?

My role model has been Albert Roux since I was a young chef; I still remember him walking into the kitchen and greeting everyone by name and shaking everyone’s hand. That impressed me a great deal! How did this gentleman at the age of 80, with a big restaurant empire, make the time to know everybody’s name, and stay humble enough to greet every one of his staff personally? I have kept this value throughout my career and find it extremely important. Staff are your most valuable asset.

What ingredient could you not live without and why?

Coriander! I know it is a bit like Marmite, but I love the stuff. I think it definitely comes from my Portuguese roots, where it is used heavily on a huge variety of fish dishes. I find it so versatile.

What item, apart from your passport, can you not travel without?

My TripAdvisor app. I simply cannot resist searching up the best things to do and the best restaurants and bars.

Where is your favourite place to eat in London?

Core by Clare Smyth.

What do you like the most about your favourite London restaurant?

Simple ingredients executed perfectly.

What do you like to do on a day off?

Spend as much time as possible with my family, play with my son, eat out and watch Game of Thrones.

Apart from food, what are your biggest passions?

Family, foraging, music.

If you could choose anyone from today or history, who would be your ideal dinner party guest and why?

I would love to sit down for dinner with Auguste Escoffier and pick his brain about how he came up with a system a century ago that is still completely relevant now; the man’s vision was extraordinary.