Meet the people: Chef Alípio Branco, Casa Velha, Quinta do Lago

Food & Drink Interviews Lifestyle
Meet Chef Alípio Branco, head chef at Casa Velha in Quinta do Lago. One of the most iconic restaurants in the Algarve, it is at Casa Velha that the dream that became Quinta do Lago first began.

Discover the story behind some of the Algarve’s most popular businesses.
People are what make a business special. The customers who frequent the business, the staff delivering the service and the ones who started it all, who had a dream and a plan and made it happen. In many smaller businesses that dreamer is often the one delivering the service too, forging direct connections with loyal customers that last years.

Here you have an opportunity to know a little more about the people behind some of the Algarve’s businesses. Small and large, all are proud of the service they offer and are passionate about the beauty of the Algarve and the excellent services that they and others like them offer to residents and visitors

Meet the people: Chef Alípio Branco, Casa Velha, Quinta do Lago

Tell us a little about yourself:
I was born in Viana do Castelo, in the very North of Portugal, in a small country village. At 10 years of age, I emigrated to Germany and it was there that I trained as a chef. I have worked in various well known hotels and restaurants in Germany, France and Switzerland before returning to Portugal.
In 2010 I had the opportunity to work in Lagos, in the Western Algarve, in a hotel that was located atop the cliffs overlooking the beach and ocean. I was enthralled by the view of the sea and cliffs from the kitchen windows. I had always wanted to return to my country of birth and the opportunity to get to know the Algarve was too good to let pass.
Tell us about your work:
Casa Velha is an iconic restaurant in the Algarve and I feel a sense of privilege and responsibility each day I go to work. It was at Casa Velha that the dream that was Quinta do Lago first began, back in the 1970’s. Being Chef at one of the oldest and most emblematic restaurants in the Algarve is a challenge and a daily inspiration for the team and I.

In 2018, Chef Yannick (at the time, head chef) invited me to join him at Casa Velha and we spent a year working together, while I absorbed the philosophy and history of Casa Velha and grew to understand the clientele.

2019, as head chef, was a year of hard work. With dedication and innovation, and along with manager Paulo Porta Nova, we won the trust of our clients.

What is it about your work that makes you proud?
At Casa Velha we serve contemporary European/ Portuguese cuisine with a focus on seasonal and local produce. We are proud to work with the highest quality of fresh products, many local to the Algarve such as the wonderful fish from Sagres and the seafood from the Ria Formosa. And of course, freshly picked vegetables and herbs straight from our own Quinta Farm.

One of our best moments, and a challenge we met very well, was New Year’s Eve 2019/2020 where we surpassed our guests expectations with flavour, class and elegance.

What do you love most about the Algarve?
For me, the Algarve is an extraordinary place. The variety and beauty of the scenery is breath-taking, from the Ria Fomosa islands, the cliffs of the Costa Vicentina and the inland hills and mountains.

I love the Ria Formosa. Spending the day on one of the islands, enjoying a fresh, grilled fish, some just shucked oysters or a tasty razor clam rice, are, for me, unforgettable moments and the essence of luxury.