Founder, Mãos, 1*
Born and raised in Lisbon, Nuno Mendes has dedicated his life to exploring the many facets of what creates exceptional experiences within hospitality.
Combining first-hand experience on his family’s farm in the Alentejo with unique ingredients and innovative techniques garnered during his travels, Mendes has endeavoured to pioneer new ideas throughout his career as a chef. In more recent years, Nuno has pushed the boundaries of his discipline to curate ever more immersive experiences for his guests.
Nuno’s first mark on the London food scene was in 2006, when he opened Bacchus in Hoxton, receiving critical acclaim for his avant-garde offering. Following this, Nuno set up a new, ground-breaking concept called The Loft Project. It grew from an underground supper club movement to, what Nuno calls, a ‘gallery for chefs’. ‘The Loft’, as it was affectionately known, became a platform for Nuno to create new recipes whilst hosting informal dinner parties for willing and intrigued diners. Nuno then invited up-and-coming chefs from around the world take up residence and use The Loft Project as their platform to create and offer an intimate dining experience in Mendes’ own home.
In 2010 Nuno opened Viajante in the Town Hall Hotel. Set in the urban landscape of Bethnal Green, the restaurant received wide-spread recognition from critics as well as a coveted Michelin star within just nine months of opening. Viajante evolved from a local hotspot into an international destination. In May 2011 Nuno opened a more informal sister restaurant to Viajante named the Corner Room. At the start of 2014, Nuno left the Town Hall Hotel to pursue new endeavours and, in February 2014, announced his position as executive chef at Chiltern Firehouse, which opened to critical acclaim. In November 2016, Nuno Mendes and Andre Balazs together published, Chiltern Firehouse, The Cookbook.
Nuno returned to East London with the opening of Taberna do Mercado in 2015 at Old Spitalfields Market. A reinterpretation of food and flavours with wines from his native country Portugal, Taberna was also the inspiration behind Nuno’s first solo cookbook, ‘Lisboeta: City of Light’ (Bloomsbury Publishing, £26.00). Taberna do Mercado was awarded a Bib Gourmand within 6 months of opening and became a favourite of local chefs and international diners alike, until its closure in 2018. Nuno continues to explore the diversity and rich cultural tapestry of Portuguese cuisine throughout his many projects.
2018 also saw Nuno launch Mãos – a kitchen, table and wine room seating 16, at 41 Redchurch Street; a project that came to life in collaboration with his longstanding friend and founder of Hostem, James Brown. Mãos is set within Blue Mountain School, an interdisciplinary space dedicated to conceptual design, celebrating and nurturing engagement between diverse artistic practices.
Most recently, Nuno has announced his position as Food and Beverage creative director at Bairro Alto Hotel in Lisbon. Originally opened in 2005 and celebrated as one of Lisbon’s most characterful luxury hotels, the Bairro Alto Hotel is due to reopen summer 2019, following a long expansion project. Nuno will not only curate the food and drink offering, but also use the hotel – aptly located in the bohemian quarter of Lisbon – as a canvas across which to explore the relationship between hospitality, lifestyle and art.
Alongside his many hospitality endeavours, Nuno Mendes is also co-founder of Fuel for Learning, an East London based business working to bring nutritious and balanced food, as well as improving dining cultures in schools.