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Musings from an International Top Chef: Dieter Koschina, owner and chef of Vila Joya Restaurant in P

Kristen Oliveri of Pasta’s Kitchen sat down with Chef Dieter Koschina in Los Cabos to discuss his participation at food festival Sabor a Cabo, his restaurant in Portugal and his food philosophy. Photo


On Prepping for the Food Festival:

Koschina was in Los Cabos for the Sabor a Cabo food festival where he was paired with local Cabo-based chef Chef Angel Carbajal the owner of sushi restaurant Nick-San. Once he arrived, the two chefs headed straight to the local food markets to choose their ingredients for a multi-course meal they were preparing for the festival. Key items include the likes of avocados, lemon, ginger, papaya, black chile and lychees, among others.

Next Koschina spent several days in the Nick-San kitchen, familiarizing himself with a new space, new cooking utensils and laboring over the creation of the menu. “I like the Mexican kitchen,” he told me. “It’s spicy.”

On What He Uses in his Own Kitchen:

He prides himself on working with only the freshest ingredients at his restaurant in Portugal. “The food comes to us very fresh, still alive with its soul,” he explained, adding that at Vila Joya the menu changes every day.

On What He Eats On His Day Off:

When asked what he likes to cook at home, he stated simply that he doesn’t. “When I have a day off, I go to the beach and I eat fresh seafood. I’m never home,” he said. “On those days, I go swimming. Too many people in this industry worry too much about the dollars. But what they really need is some time on the beach.”

About the Chef:

The pioneer and lodestar for Portugal’s gourmet cuisine is Dieter Koschina from Dornbirn. Born in 1962, the chef has been working for the restaurant of the luxury hotel Vila Joya in the Algarve since 1990. He was awarded his first Michelin star there in 1995. Prior to this, he spent time working under Heinz Winkler at Tantris in Munich as well as under Gerhard Schwaiger at Tristán in Puerto Portals on Majorca. Koschina also worked together with Eckardt Witzigmann, before the call came from Vila Joya, a luxury hotel directly on the Algarve. He has now cooked at Vila Joya for over 20 years, supported by some 20 co-workers, many of whom are Austrians looking to gather international experience – and he has thus simultaneously nurtured the next generation of elite Austrian chefs. Since 2013, Vila Joya has been ranked 37th in the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. The restaurant, which has been awarded two Michelin stars, combines local products with Northern European methods.

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