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Luxury Hospitality Magazine speaks with Chef Candeias at the Amara Restaurant at the Four Seasons Fairways, about the restaurant expansion and the newly created menus

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to speak with us, could you please tell us about your journey into the industry?

My career choice was fuelled by my love of food and my journey began by enrolling into a cookery school in Faro where I am from. The school took my passion for cooking to a new level, and I never looked back. I actually started my career at Four Seasons Fairways as a trainee and then headed abroad to learn new skills and refine my style. I was fortunate enough to work at a number of top restaurants in Sweden, Georgia and Amsterdam, including training at the Michelin Starred Rijks Restaurant. It has been great however to return to where it all started for me at Four Seasons Fairways – it feels like home, and I have a brilliant team surrounding me who are hugely supportive, inspiring and allow my creative juices to flow!

How long have you been working at the Amara Restaurant, and what do you love most about it?

I was privileged enough to be part of the team involved in the conception of Amara, so really from the absolute outset, through to the opening back in 2018 until the present and to oversee the opening of the new outdoor dining area. Being part of something from the very beginning is a huge privilege and I love how Amara effortlessly twins intimacy with sophistication alongside Portuguese traditions and contemporary cuisine to give guests an unmistakable and memorable experience.

What is your signature cooking style?

My inspiration and style has certainly evolved over the years but ultimately I would say it never goes far from true traditional Portuguese, simple, local fare – a home cooked style with family and ‘Cataplana’ at its heart – the art of bringing people together. All this but with a twist – an elegance, colour, vibrancy, and an explosion of contemporary flavours. In contrast to my professional cooking, I have simple tastes. Give me some local sardines perfectly grilled, a fresh tomato salad and a nice cold beer – and I am at my happiest!

Talk us through the restaurant expansion and the addition of al fresco dining.

We’ve been extremely lucky to have the ability and space to expand the restaurant, to provide an outside dining area for guests this year. Four Seasons Fairways as a brand is aware that continued upgrading and investment in the resort is crucial to keep ahead in a competitive market. The decision to expand and invest in Amara has been down to the popularity of the restaurant and I am delighted that we now have more space to welcome both guests and visitors to Quinta do Lago alike where they can relax and enjoy both the gastronomic experience but also the warm Algarve evenings.

Where is the restaurant located and does the menu focus on traditional Portuguese Cuisine?

Four Seasons Fairways is just a stone’s throw from the stunning Ria Formosa nature reserve, a scenic swirl of seawater lagoons, sandy islands, salt marshlands and diverse bird life. The resort is also surrounded by some of Quinta do Lago’s numerous championship golf courses so guests at Amara benefit from beautifully manicured, lush green vistas. The restaurant is located in the main Clubhouse area within the resort, at the very heart of Four Seasons Fairways and the new menus I’ve created redefine traditional Portuguese cuisine.

What does the new menu feature? What flavours can be expected?

The starters I’ve created get the meal off to an energetic opening with strong flavours from the beginning with dishes such as Tiger Prawn Salad accompanied by an Avocado Purée, Trout Roe & Mango, Rabbit Terrine with Cranberry Gel or Hamachi Fish Mosaic with Tomato Tartar. Fish dishes are as fresh as can be with sumptuous Fillet of Sole stuffed with Prawns, Carrot Purée, Grilled Courgette & Coconut & Carrot Sauce, Slow Cooked Cod with Vegetable Noisette, Celeriac Purée & a Dashi Beurre Blanc along with Roasted Octopus with Romesco Sauce, Coriander Emulsion, Sweet Potato Purée & Potato Soufflé. Meat dishes include high quality cuts of duck, pork, and lamb with dishes such as Grilled Rump Cap with Salsify, Shallot Purée, Shitake, Padron Peppers & a Chimichurri Sauce and Confit Suckling Pig Belly with Grilled Gem Lettuce, Butternut Purée, Orange Gel, Potato Soufflé & Pepper Sauce while pudding consists of a choice between delights such as ‘Abade Priscos’ Pudding with Toasted Hazelnut, Crumble & Raspberry Sorbet, Mango Cremeux with Coconut & Passion Fruit Sorbet and Portuguese Cheeses.

What is your favourite dish and why?

I’d have to say the Roasted Duck Breast which is served with Butternut Squash Purée, White Asparagus, Crispy Egg Yolk and a Duck Sauce with Kombu and Shitake. The duck is cooked to perfection – tender and juicy and the flavours are well balanced and go so well together.

Vegetarians often don’t have much choice when dining out here in PortugaI – but I am proud of some new dishes I’ve created and am confident will be popular including Topinambur Soup with Truffle Oil & Mushroom Tartlet, a Roasted Butternut Squah with Ricotta Tortellini and a Sparkling Wine Beurre Blanc and a Roasted Celeriac Steak with Granola, Fermented Garlic Emulsion and Potato Foam.

Where do you draw inspiration from and do you use seasonal produce where possible?

Absolutely – there is a big emphasis on combining seasonal produce along with sourcing products from the region as feasibly possible. We are incredibly lucky to have so much local produce to choose from and a number of incredible local suppliers who source the best honey, olive oil, ‘Flôr de Sal’ salt, Almonds and of course the freshest fish which is in abundance in this region.

Tell us why everyone needs to add the Amara Restaurant to their must visit lists

Amara pays homage to the locale; from the fresh, seasonal food to the unique lighting clearly recognisable as one of the most beautiful sights in the Algarve – the Almond Trees in full bloom.

It’s an intimate dining experience and one that boasts some of the best views in Quinta do Lago. A huge amount of effort goes into presentation and the dishes feature unique flavours as well as being made from the best quality ingredients available and wherever possible locally sourced. It’s also incredibly good value for money, with the 3-course menu costing €45 and the 4-course tasting menu, €55, both with optional wine pairing to enrich the experience, at €26 and €31 respectively.