Image left: Cod Fish, Potato, Goat Cheese "Aligot" with Quail Egg Yolk Confit and Truffle Juice.
Image right: Cyril Devilliers, Executive Chef at The Oitavos, Oitavos Dunes, Cascais, Portugal. Images by Diana DeLucia
Oitovos Dunes: 2011
Portugal is one of the World's stunning countries with unbelievable colors and history in view where ever you look. My 25-minute journey from the airport to the property was a memorable one.
Oitavos Dunes, Portugal's number one golf course, is located on the Atlantic Coast, near the fishing village of Cascais. When I arrived at my hotel room at The Oitavos, I was early, so I did what any photographer would do, leave my stuff at the desk and explore!
The Lisbon Coast is renowned for Kite Surfing, and when I began my coastal hike, I could see why. This walk which might have been a mile or two, took me over two hours. The Portuguese sunset was breathtaking and, I took one of my finest sunset images that evening. The entire coastline is full of the relics of days gone by that you can explore as you go to my delight.
Sunset on my coastal hike along the Lisbon Coast. Image by Diana DeLucia
The downside for me was the wind! I was woefully unprepared and my hair ended up looking like a worn-out broomstick by the time I was heading back to the hotel. I intended to check in and try to run to the elevator without being noticed, however, this was not on the cards. A handsome young man approached and I was extremely embarrassed to be seen by anyone this way, turned out to be Miguel Champalimaud Jnr., whom I would be working with for the duration of my trip. I apologized for my disheveled arrival and slinked to my room to get ready for dinner. (thank the Lord there are no photos of that moment!)
That evening I met with Pureza Champalimaud and Cyril Devilliers, Executive Chef.
Pureza's knowledge of fine wines is notable and she informed me that her father took charge of the wine production at Quinta do Côtto in 1976, over 30 years ago, and is central to Portuguese enology and winemaking.
Devilliers is classically trained but his cuisine has many influences. He enjoys an abundance of fresh fish in the region which leads to a joyful menu for seafood lovers like me!
In the coming days, I would learn more about the property and its history and it was fascinating. https://oitavosdunes.com/about2/ I was honored that they had taken an interest in my vision.
Oitavos Dunes is featured in my first book Golf Club World, Behind the Gates, published in 2013 (sold out, now considered a rare book)
I am pleased to share some of Devilliers recipes along with an excerpt from his interview.
Grilled Portobello Mushroom, Eggs Meurette with Foie Gras Shavings and Tarragon-Nut Vinaigrette
Image by Diana DeLucia
An interview with cyril devilliers
GK: Tell us about your culinary background.
I started working in a restaurant in the Beauce Région Île-de-France called Auberge Saint Jean when I was 15. I worked in the restaurant as an apprentice for three years. After that I worked at another restaurant for two years named Auberge des Bons Enfants, which was in the village of Bourth. We made lots of pork, cabbage and potatoes which was common for the area.
I did not want to stay in my village my whole life, I wanted more. I joined the French army and cooked for one year. It was a good year for me. When I finished my time in the army I went to Corsica in the South of France for just one summer, and I worked in multiple hotels to gain more experience. I became involved in the opening of many restaurants, including a restaurant in Alicante, Spain called Girasol. The restaurant was awarded two Michelin Stars. After that I moved to Lisbon I worked as the Executive Chef at Restaurant Eleven and was awarded one Michelin Star.
GK: What brought you to The Oitavos?
I was traveling in Bangkok, Thailand when a Chef told me about a position at the Ritz Carlton in Lisbon. I came to Lisbon for 15 days to work on the new menu. I really liked it, it was a five star hotel. I stayed for three years and worked at the Executive Sous Chef and Banquet Chef. I learnt a lot at my time there. The Chef Aimé Barroyer at The Oitavos called, me and asked me if I wanted to come and work as his Executive Sous Chef, he said it was an incredible opportunity. I came here for the opening of the hotel in 2010. Chef Barroyer left after only two months. I was worried they would not trust me as I was working for him, but to my surprise the Champalimaud family asked me if I wanted the Executive Chef position. I was very happy. It's an amazing place. I can see the ocean from my kitchen, I love working in the natural light.
GK: Tell us about the local products that you work with.
We have the best products here, right from the ocean. Portugal has some amazing land and the farmers are really hard working and want to create very good products so that the local restaurants and hotels don't bring in products from France and Europe.
GK: Do you enjoy working for the Champalimaud family?
We all listen to each other, we have many objectives here at The Oitavos. We have room service; we have large parties and we have a lot of intimate dinners. I can be creative with the menu, but I also have to work with the customers requests and the requirements of the Champalimaud family. We have all learned to trust each other and we work very well together.
The Champalimaud family, are amazing. I cant believe they are real sometimes. That's how great they are to work for. They expect a lot from me and trust in me, and I make sure I do all that I can to deliver excellence for them.
~ Diana DeLucia
Saint-Honoré "The Oitavos" \ Image by Diana DeLucia
The clubhouse at Oitavos Dunes \ Image by Diana DeLucia