George Mendes spent 17 years honing his craft with several culinary masters before opening his first New York City restaurant, Aldea, in May 2009. The Portuguese-influenced restaurant was awarded a one-star Michelin rating and in 2011 he was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef. Last year Mendes opened Lupulo, which serves rustic Portuguese fare inspired by the beer halls of Lisbon. The restaurant also features a daytime walk-up window and dine-in counter serving small-roast coffee, breakfast and lunch. Mendes is also the author of a cookbook, My Portugal.
1. Heat-Resistant Rubber Spatula. I love using it as a cooking utensil to move ingredients around in pots, pans and bowls, and how it provides the ability to keep the sides of the vessel clean.
2. Long-Bib Apron. I like the ruggedness and protection it offers a chef jacket during prep. It feels like my watch; a part of my uniform. I feel naked without it.
3. The Professional Chef. It’s a favorite cookbook that comes from the Culinary Institute of America. It lays out the foundations of classic technique and has simple, basic preparations that we can branch off of. It also includes ratios, the mother sauces and many tried-and-true recipes.
4. Roasted Beef Tenderloin. It’s part of a favorite recipe that includes potato puree and mushrooms. It’s simple, classic and always satisfying.
5. Porters. They are among the most important employees in a restaurant. I love the work they do because I’m a clean freak.