10 minutes with Leandro Carriera , chef patron and founder, Londrino

The Staff Canteen

Leandro Carreira is chef patron and founder at Londrino and is one of the chefs involved with 'Taste of London'.

Having worked at various prominent restaurants throughout Europe, chef Leandro Carreira ran a temporary pop up in London Fields which inspired him to open Londrino, a contemporary restaurant which has a strong emphasis on seafood and draws inspiration from the flavours and ingredients of his home country Portugal.

The Staff Canteen spoke to Leandro about his culinary influences, his love of seafood and why he is taking part in Taste of London. 


Taste of London

What is Taste of London?

Taste of London has been described as the capital’s ultimate culinary celebration and includes a fantastic line-up of amazing chefs including Niklas Ekstedt, Leandro Carreira, Lee Tiernan, Francesco Mazzei, Selin Kiazim and more.

Taste of London offers a myriad of unforgettable food-led, lifestyle experiences and is the must-attend event of the summer and takes place at Regent’s Park from 13-17 June 2018.

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You have until 5 pm on Friday, May 11 to enter. All winners will be notified directly after a live draw which will take place on Facebook on Tuesday 15 May.

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What made you want to become a chef – what inspired you to start cooking?

I grew up in a household where food was important. My father used to say, we might not have a Mercedes but we'll always have nice food at this table. I ended up in culinary school because I was a bit of a rebellious teenager and wanted to stop studying, but my parents said I had to do something with my life, work hard and travel. So, I went to culinary school in my hometown.

I liked it but it wasn’t until I moved to Lisbon that I started thinking about cooking as a proper job. I got my first serious job there and became head chef at the age of 20.

Mushrooms%2C fermented barley%2C caramelized yogurt
Mushrooms, fermented barley
and caramelised yoghurt

You seem keen to not classify Londrino as a Portuguese restaurant, how would you classify it – for example, would it be modern cuisine but with Portuguese influences?
We don't serve ‘typical' Portuguese dishes like pastel de nata, as people are doing that very well over here already. There are nods to Portugal on the menu, with Portuguese-inspired ingredients and flavours, but this isn’t a traditional Portuguese restaurant as such.

You can find culinary influences and techniques we’ve picked up on our journeys (from London, Japan, Spain and Australia) and we’ll be using produce from all across Britain. I see it as using British produce with a Portuguese slant, 95% of the produce we use is British.

Do you feel that the UK could see a surge in popularity in Portuguese food as a food genre and is Londrino offering an alternative take on what is perceived as ‘typical’ Portuguese cuisine?

I don't see a massive Portuguese food scene in London, but I think that Portuguese food deserves to be more recognised in the same way as any other country, like Italy or Spain and has the potential of becoming more popular in the UK. I don't see why not. Because there's huge, huge potential.

I think this is very exciting because Portuguese food is misrepresented in the UK, there is much more to Portuguese food than Nandos and custard tarts (no matter how delicious they are). Portugal has some of the most incredible produce in the world – the finest seafood, cured meats, wines and young chefs – but its food culture is widely underestimated and is only just being discovered in this country.

Seafood produce
Seafood is a huge part of
Leandro's menu

You are taking part in 'Taste of London' - what are you looking forward to the most about this and are you able to give us any exclusive information about what you will be doing?
I’m looking forward to taking over the Fire Pit and showing some cool stuff that we do here at Londrino based on some old Portuguese flavours. The fire pit will be taking centre stage at Taste of London this year. Cooking over an open fire is where Londrino started, after all. When we did our residency at Climpson’s Arch we cooked in a shipping container with a grill and wood fire and grilled everything from mackerel, octopus and sardines to brioche.

Your menu has been described as having an “emphasis on the sea” – please can you tell me a bit more about this?

We lived in Leiria, in central coastal Portugal, so our diet was largely based on fish and shellfish. This has always provided me with a lot of inspiration so I like to serve a variety of seafood- just today in the restaurant we had Shellfish crisps, Regal Oysters, Grilled marinated sardines on cornbread, Bream Crudo with chard and roe, Prawns with mustard and Madeira sauce, Mussel tart and Red Mullet.

Can you talk me through your process of menu and dish creation?

Often, I take Portuguese traditions or ingredients inspired by Portugal and experiment with techniques I’ve learned throughout my career.

A dish I cook with fantastically fresh mackerel stuffed with seaweed and left to cure overnight heightens that ‘from the sea’ flavour and takes the mantra of ‘simple ingredients cooked well’ to a whole new level. I take inspiration from my hometown where they cure fish until dry then grill it and then experimented with a technique I picked up when working at Koya, where they cure it by opening up the fish and layering the inside with Kombu seaweed. I serve it simply with cured cabbage and smoked butter.

Leandro header image
Some of Leandro's dishes

How often do you change your menu and does seasonality feature on your menu?

We change the menu daily, depending on what is in season and what we can get from the boats that morning. 

You have worked with the likes of Andoni Luis Aduriz, Nuno Mendes and James Lowe, how was it working with them and how have they influenced you?

I feel very lucky to have worked with some amazing chefs in my career. One of the most important things I’ve learnt is to know exactly what you want your restaurant to be and where you want it to be. Even if things take time, believe in yourself and the talents of those around you to know you will get there.

You started your first solo restaurant Londrino late last year - how is it going so far and why did you pick the name which translates as ‘Londoner?'

It was my mother that picked the name because I honestly didn’t know what to call it. It means Londoner in Portuguese, so you say everyone that lives in London is a Londrino. We have a long way to go and its still very early days but we are moving in the right direction.

The initial concept for the restaurant started as a temporary pop-up restaurant in London Fields - how long did it take from the pop-up to launch at your Southwark restaurant and what has running a pop-up taught you? 

It seemed like an age, but it was actually a year between the Arch and Londrino opening. The idea of Londrino started four years ago when Viajante closed, but I guess once Cameron and I went to Climpson’s Arch, that’s where we sort of really started creating our idea for the restaurant and that was two and a half years ago.

Londrino Interior

Climpson’s was great for me; it set me free from the regimented background of fine-dining and allowed me to step away from it a little bit. It made me realise that I wanted to do something else, something more fun, with no fuss.

It was great because the space was extremely raw and the crowd was different from the normal set-up of a restaurant. I’m really pleased we did it.

Do you have a favourite dish on the menu – what is it and why is it your favourite?

Either the Mackerel with smoked seaweed butter and cabbage or the Brioche with sour caramel for dessert. The latter was invented during our time at Climpson’s Arch. The dessert became so popular that we knew it had to be on the menu when we opened our own place.

How would you describe Londrino in five words?  

Modern, Iberian, dynamic, nose-to-tail, seafood

Mackerel dish
Savoy cabbage, smoked
seaweed butter mackerel 

What are your plans for ‘Londrino’ moving forwards, are you hoping to win awards or this not a primary focus right now?

For the next year, we don’t have any projects, this is enough. We just want to focus on the running of the restaurant and see how it goes. However, we want to bring new things into play, so we’ve just launched a bar snacks menu for the Wine Bar, a set-lunch menu for the Restaurant and have started doing regional Portuguese Sunday lunches, around different regions in Portugal and showcase lesser known areas. Sundays are going to be very lively this year.

Leandro Carreira, Londrino Restaurant and Wine Bar

Taste of London will be at Regent’s Park from 13-17 June 2018 with Family Day taking place on Sunday 17 June.

For tickets, please visit: https://london.tastefestivals.com/

Images of Taste of London:


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The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th May 2018

10 minutes with Leandro Carriera , chef patron and founder, Londrino