Manuel Santos – Executive Chef Vila Baleira Hotels

Manuel Santos was born in 1984 in the municipality of Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal and from an early age began helping his grandmother and mother at family lunches and dinners. He developed his qualities and skills at the Hotel Management School of Santa Maria da Feira, graduating in Cuisine and Pastry (from 1999 to 2002) and at the Porto School of Hotel Management and Tourism, graduating in Hotel Management (2002 to 2004). He had a brief experience in the Algarve and at the Pestana Casino Park Hotel, but it was on the island of Porto Santo, more specifically at the Hotel Vila Baleira, that he embraced enormous challenges, which allowed him to grow within this structure. A convinced enthusiast of Portuguese gastronomy, his cuisine shares the philosophy of showcasing the best of the region with local products and traditional recipes, managing to place this resort as one of the references on the island to date. He is currently the Executive Chef and responsible for the kitchens of the three Hotels (Vila Baleira Porto Santo, Vila Baleira Funchal and Vila Baleira Suites).


The strong desire to always do well and better and make a positive impact on the people I deal with daily. At the same time, I am inspired by developing qualities and skills in my team, which allow them to always be motivated and have the possibility of growth, both personally and professionally.


The 3 pillars of my life end up being the reason for everything. First pillar, family, starting with my dear wife, who has supported me throughout my journey, whether in sadness or joy. Without her, most likely, I would not have been able to achieve what I have achieved. As well as my parents, who never hindered me during my training, and always supported and helped me. Second pilar, the sense of responsibility, which has been nurtured over the years, and what seems easy today, was very difficult in the beginning, such as decision-making. Third pillar, loyalty and happiness. Yes, there are two of them, but in my opinion, one doesn’t make sense without the other. With commitment, truth, honesty (loyalty), it is much easier to achieve happiness, valid not only on a professional level, but also on a personal level.


If I weren’t in this professional field, my second option would be something aimed at sports or teaching. When I applied for hotel management school, if I hadn’t been selected I would have followed Sports. I like watching and practicing and it probably would have been the way to go.


It’s a little unfair to mention just theree in a huge range of people who made an impact on me, but here goes! The person who impacted me the most was, without a doubt, when it all began, during my training, Chef Delfim Soares, due to the demands of his daily routine, the rigor, the dedication required, the hours of punishment, and so many other remarkable episodes. Today I really value the way he dealt with me. Almost every day I remember that time and I bring with me all the principles and methods he administered and I am very grateful for that. The second person, Chef Heliodoro Camacho, because he bet and believed in me, even when I didn’t  believe I was capable. He pushed and demanded of me, and if I’m a Chef today it’s because of him. And finally, I will not individualize, but rather generalize, all the professionals I worked with during my professional career, where from each one I learned lessons and benefits that made me grow as a professional and as a man.


Cinema. Cinema is something that fascinates and excites me. I love action films and series and whenever I have the chance, I take the opportunity to update myself. The adrenaline, the suspense, glue me to the screen. Of course, in addition to that, there is always the big Porto Football Club!


Some destiny chosen by my son. Probably Paris, more specifically Disneyland Paris. It’s his wish, which I want to see fulfilled in the short term, but professional life hasn’t allowed it. It is also a destination that I want to visit, especially in terms of gastronomy.

By Edgar Correia


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