In love with his profession. Rodrigo Furtado.

 

When I met young Rodrigo Furtado, a Partie Chef with Corinthia Lisbon, I confessed to him that whenever I meet a chef, I think of food and recall two scourges of humanity: food wastage and world hunger. 

Rodrigo agreed and gently told me: ‘I regularly help prepare meals for people below the poverty line. I offer my service to institutions who carry out this noble cause, and I assure you it is very refreshing and rewarding.

Rodrigo Furtado

I admired him. Data on food wastage is shocking. According to SDA Bocconi, a recent FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) survey shows that one-third of annual agrifood production is lost or wasted – the shocking equivalent of 1.3 billion tons and nearly $1,200 billion. Apart from the obvious negative results, when food is thrown away, it generates a waste of resources, such as land, water, energy, soil, capital, and other essential assets that are utilised in food production. 

Data on world hunger is equally, if not more, tragic. WFP (World Food Programme) reckons that in 2023, the world entered a hunger crisis. It calculates that 783 million people are facing chronic hunger. 

And every small step we take grows and adds up if we all do our small part to help,‘ added Rodrigo.

Rodrigo at work

I love the French titles of chefs. Rodrigo is Chef de Partie. Other names would be station chef, line chef, and line cook, but these do not sound as musical as the French title. They are trained culinary professionals in charge of a particular area of production in a restaurant. ‘I teach and organise the team to offer a good service and ensure that the products are of good standard and in line with the expectations of our executive chef, Miguel Teixeira.

Corinthia Lisbon prides itself on three main restaurants: Erva Restaurant and Bar, which provides contemporary Portuguese cuisine of a very high standard; Soul Garden Restaurant and Bar, which offers Asian and Latin American cuisines and flavours; and Olivae Restaurant and Terrace, which serves Mediterranean delights in an alfresco or indoor setting.

I started as a pastry cook, or pâtissier, learning the basics and niceties of that art in a pastry shop in Coimbra, a town on the banks of the river Mondego, famous for its oldest university in Portugal. There, I learnt the art of making various kinds of baked goods, including candies, chocolates, cakes, cookies, cupcakes and pies,’ said Rodrigo with pride in his voice. 

‘I was happy there, but I wanted to grow and gain experience in a large kitchen and learn more about the demanding culinary art. So, in 2016, I joined the Corinthia Lisbon Hotel. Its name and reputation are a great attraction. I am so glad they accepted me, and I am now developing within the company. It’s hard work but the best way to learn and grow. I have received instruction from great chefs who generously shared their professionalism and knowledge.

Before his Corinthia adventure, Rodrigo completed his studies at the Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo, Hotel and Tourism School. Then, he followed several short courses on different topics, perfecting the art of fish and meat cutting. He finally finished a course in a special school in Coimbra.  

With colleagues

I’m in love with my profession; it runs in my blood and my spirit. I love interacting with my colleagues and forming part of a formidable team. I love teaching, sharing and learning. I enjoy being creative in my work and am blessed with so many opportunities here. I sincerely feel at home, growing both professionally and personally. This is what I really want to do all my life.

Rodrigo was clearly a determined man and persistent in his route forward. Even his relaxation is related to his profession. ‘I love visiting new restaurants, following what is happening, following important chefs, and travelling.

So, can I say that hospitality is your future? Rodrigo shared a full smile. ‘It’s been my past; it is my present and will certainly be my future. I simply love seeing others enjoy what I offer. It is a refreshing experience to do something that is appreciated and cherished by others. It makes them and me feel good.