“2023 marks a difference from the point of view of promoting Portugal as a gastronomy destination”, said the member of the board of directors of Turismo de Portugal Lídia Monteiro, during a meeting, in Lisbon.

According to the person responsible, the total amount invested this year was around 800 thousand euros, of which close to half went to the gala. Another notable event was the 'Taste of London', organized in collaboration with the Portuguese Hotel, Restaurant and Similar Association (AHRESP), last June.

Important market

“The United Kingdom is a very important market, it is the main source of tourists”, said Lídia Monteiro. Spain is “a strong proximity market”, where the “public has a great appetite” and “already knows Portuguese gastronomy”, she also said.

Further away, the USA and Brazil are two other markets that deserve the investment of Turismo de Portugal, because tourists from these countries consider gastronomy as a reason for their trip.

“We had already started working consistently to promote gastronomy for some time. The [covid-19] pandemic was a brake and 2023 was a very important year of restarting our activity”, she also said, anticipating that the trend will continue next year.

In 2024, “people will travel more and with greater interest in gastronomy,” she said.

Michelin gala

In February, Michelin organizes its first gala exclusively dedicated to Portugal – until the 2023 edition of the guide, the presentation ceremony for the distinguished restaurants was always held jointly between Spain and Portugal, and almost always took place in Spanish cities, with the exception of the 2019 guide, in Lisbon.

“With an exclusive ceremony for the selection of Portugal, the Michelin Guide highlights the increasing excellence that inspectors find in Portugal, (…) which has demonstrated remarkable culinary growth in recent times”, said Michelin's communications director Spain and Portugal, Monica Rius.

In Portugal, she added, “there has been a clear positive evolution in the last decade, with a good selection of national chefs with excellent training and ambition to improve, who are presenting interesting proposals, offering modern Portuguese cuisine, which, based on traditional flavours, seek to surprise with new presentations and textures”.

According to the person responsible for communications, “the interest in Portuguese cuisine and Portugal is visible in the large influx of tourists to cities of great attraction and interest, such as Lisbon and Porto, which serve as a base for these gastronomic restaurants, opening borders and seeking excellence ”.

Portugal currently has a total of 164 restaurants in the guide, of which seven have two stars ('excellent cuisine, worth the detour'), 30 have one star ('great cuisine, worth stopping by'), three have one Green star (distinguishes the sustainability of the kitchen), 37 Bib Gourmand (meal with a good quality/price, around 45 euros) and 90 recommended.

The fact that the gala takes place in Portugal does not mean that the inspectors are national, explained the organization: the Michelin Guide, with a presence in 45 countries, has international teams, made up of inspectors from 15 nationalities – including Portuguese.