dining celebrity chefs Chef's Corner: Cláudio Cardoso
Chef's Corner: Cláudio Cardoso
Updated on 12 October 2022

Being a chef is extremely tasking with having to tend to numerous tastes, likes and dislikes.

Chef Cláudio Cardoso, Culinary Director of SLS Dubai Hotel and Residences has, with years of experience, left his mark on the culinary world.

Having worked at multiple five-star restaurants around the world from Peru, Italy, South Africa, United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal and Hong Kong, his expertise is now making waves in the UAE.

Chef Cláudio is dedicated to bringing a sustainable and zero waste policy to all his dishes at Carna.

By utilising local produce were possible, as well as all ends and cuts from products, Chef Cláudio adds his unique flair to dishes and creates an unmissable experience for diners.

Here, Chef Cláudio Cardoso shares his journey as a chef in the culinary industry.

How did you get started in the food industry?

I got into the industry by happenstance since my family owned bakeries, and worked in food production, from cereals and honey. As a kid, I spent my summers collecting grapes in my grandmother’s vineyard. I also spent time in the kitchen with my other grandmother and great-grandmother who were both chefs. I naturally found myself in the kitchen. When I was 15, I discovered there was a culinary school in my neighbourhood and instantly knew that was where my future was. I went in and did a few different tests, a psychometric test, English, French, Portuguese, science, and mathematics. It is a lengthy process given the number of applicants from which only 30 are selected. A 3-year course followed by a 5-year university degree later and I had my foot in the industry.

 What is your earliest cooking memory?

When I was in primary school, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother as my parents were working and finished work late. My grandmother would pick me up from school and I would spend the rest of the day with her at the bakery, looking at the pots, mixing, and eating leftover cake. My earliest cooking memories were of being in a kitchen, and discovering my passion for cooking in my grandmother’s home as young as 7 years old. I was already very curious and asked a lot of questions so that I could understand and replicate what she was doing including her little tricks.

What is your favourite dish from your country?

This is a very difficult question, Portugal has fantastic gastronomy with a bounty of quality ingredients so it is challenging to pinpoint an exact dish. I would say the one that makes me proud is Pastéis de natas. Although we eat it so much in Portugal, I never realised how popular it is until I travelled and found out how beloved this dish is internationally. I vividly remember one of my first experiences in the kitchen in my mid-teens was while I was interning in numerous bakeries and one of them was famous for selling the best Pastéis de natas in Portugal. I have since become a pro at making the dish and despite the technical difficulties in making the dish, I am very proud to have mastered it. Portuguese seafood, in general, is also quite exceptional and inspires many of the dishes I create.

What is the one go-to and easy snack you love making for midnight cravings?

When I have midnight cravings, I opt for something quick, simple and yet delicious. I grab an ice cream tub and cookies, and I add my own twist. I love contrasting textures and dimensions, so I reach for organic chocolate hazelnut spread, chia seeds and oats. I make a rich indulgent ice cream with a unique twist with some crunch, creamy elements and textures. That would be my go-to midnight snack that I love making. Actually, it ends up being my after-midnight snack as I arrive home after midnight.

What is the one raw ingredient you cannot cook without from your country?

It is a no-brainer for me, Portuguese ingredients. They are fantastic but there are a few different ones that stand out. I will go with barnacles, it is a variety of which are found from rocky cliffs where the ocean waves are strong. They have muscles that grow on the outer shells and are quite expensive. The rougher the sea, the better the quality, so they are my favourite raw ingredient. They have the flavour of the sea and are playful and versatile with interesting textures. They are not very popular in this part of the world but they have gained popularity in Europe and the rest of the world in the last five years. They are very unique to Portugal.

What is the best dish to try at your restaurant?

Carna is known for its steak, but personally, I am partial to the Artichoke Tarte. Not because it is a best seller and has rave reviews from customers but it also was one of the most fun dishes to create. It has a lot to do with Carna’s new sustainability vision and dedication to zero waste with a focus on local produce. Although there isn’t a lot of local produce used in the specific dish, it was conceptualised to reduce waste and maximise the flavour. I think the Artichoke Tarte has amazing flavours and texture. I really utilise local produce to the fullest, since it is finished with locally produced honey from two farms. The dish has a beautiful story and it supports the biodiversity of the UAE. Guests love it and it is one of the best vegetarian dishes at Carna, hands down.

Chef Cláudio Cardoso

Culinary Director

SLS Dubai Hotel and Residences


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