Nuno Mendes | Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone

Born in Portugal, Nuno Mendes has lived and worked in San Francisco, New York and now London. In 2006, he opened Bacchus, a gastropub in Hoxton before starting the pioneering intimate dining experience, The Loft Project where, in his own Shoreditch apartment, some of the world’s best chefs cooked in front of guests. Next, in 2010, came Bethnal Green’s Viajante which within a year had won a Michelin star and a place in 2013’s World’s 50 Best Restaurant. Nuno is currently Executive Chef at Chiltern Firehouse.
“I like the idea of feeding people but also of feeding their minds,” says Nuno. “I’ve always wanted to use food as a medium, and have had a longing to do more than just make tummies happy.” He has done this in varying ways, not least in creating a tasting menu where there is no menu. “When you read a menu you instantly start to dream of a composition, but with no menu you’re exposed, you’re taking things as they are, and you don’t have time to construct things in your imagination.”

“I was instantly drawn to East London, this cool pocket of creative energy with a bohemian and cosmopolitan feeling. It’s not the prettiest part of London but once you scratch the surface it’s amazing what you find. You can walk down an ugly alley and then suddenly there’s a doorway with something incredible inside. East London is full of secrets; there’s random beauty everywhere.

My tattoos are a reminder of all the lives I’ve lived, in all the different places. The dots represent a sense of separate existences and the line is the lifeline that runs through them. In the centre there is me, my father and my mother: the three people who go beyond those lives and who I always carry through wherever I am. When I cook, I bring all of my lives with me and all of the energy of those unconnected experiences comes together on the plate.”