THE ELSKA KITCHEN JOURNEY
The Elska Kitchen was born out of our love for good food, family and travel, and a passion for ethical, ecologically conscious living. Our restaurant relies on the freshest organic, locally sourced produce to deliver innovative flavours that nourish the body and open the mind and heart.
We are located in the gorgeous natural setting of Aljezur and Costa Vicentina. Enjoy the spectacular view over Arrifana beach as you relax in our cozy, coastal style decor.
Everything in The Elska Kitchen is sourced from local growers, and we are proud to keep food waste and disposable plastics to an absolute minimum.
Chef Francisco Barbosa creates gorgeous, colourful plates full of delicious seasonal produce and delicacies - for everyone who eats! - vegetarians and vegans, as well as meat and fish eaters.
Our goal is to offer the highest quality, most delicious and healthy experience to our guests and to the wonderfully supportive Aljezur community, and join the global growth of conscious kitchens.
KERENSA & STEPPE
Kerensa and Steppe met on a film set in Luxembourg 15 years ago and have been together ever since.
The name Elska comes from their heritage - Steppe is half Irish, half Icelandic, while Kerensa is half English, half Swedish - Elska means love in both Swedish and Icelandic.
After years as an assistant director in film, Steppe, a natural logistics type, went on to work as an opening manager for Jamie Oliver, training staff and launching new restaurants in central London. This is where he met Elska's head chef, Francisco.
Kerensa worked as a script supervisor for film and TV, filming in locations all over the world.
Feeling the urge to settle down and start a family they took the rather drastic leap to the hillsides of Tenerife, to run an organic B&B and yoga retreat centre. This is where they developed their love of nature and enjoyed cooking for the guests. As much as they loved their 5 years on the island, they were missing a sense of creativity and an active community to be part of. So in 2018 - following in the footsteps of Kerensa's sister - they moved to Portugal!
The whole family has fallen completely head-over-heels in love with with Aljezur! The incredible nature and strong community spirit made such an impact. After deciding to open a health-themed cafe/restaurant they got 'the call' from Steppe's old work colleague, Francisco. He too was done with London life and looking for a change. Needless to say, by the end of the call The Elska Kitchen was born.
Steppe and Kerensa have always had a passion for healthy food, and they both enjoy developing projects from the ground up.
Paired with chef Francisco's talents and belief in quality ingredients, zero food wastage and dynamic flavours, they feel The Elska Kitchen embodies their cumulative experience and passions.
CHEF FRANCISCO BARBOSA
Francisco grew up in the suburbs of Lisbon, where his mother ran a snack bar. This was his first exposure to kitchen life, helping out with both serving and cooking. Travelling back and forth to the UK, Francisco worked in kitchens, but moving to London at 22 is when his passion for food really took off.
Working for Jamie Oliver for six years broadened and deepened his learning and skills, and began to focus his area of interest.
He became fascinated by Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes and his modern take on Portuguese food. Francisco repeatedly visited Viajante for inspiration, experiencing new flavors and techniques. During this spell he held a few internships, including The Corner Room at the Town Hall Hotel in central London.
There Francisco met Leandro Carreira, and when Leandro, (who incidentally grew up in Amoreira near Aljezur) opened his own Restaurant, Londrino, Francisco dropped everything to spend a year of what he says was probably the best cooking experience he's ever had.
At Londrino, Francisco found himself working with more traditional Portuguese produce and techniques than he expected, diving deeper into his food memories - and surprisingly cooking far more vegetarian dishes than he'd expected.
When Steppe suggested that Francisco return to Portugal to build the menu and become head chef of an organic, locally sourced flexitarian restaurant, it felt like just the right move!
The Elska Kitchen's menu reflects Francisco's food integrity and heart, along with his creativity and love for quality ingredients. His plates are a beautiful homage to his ongoing food journey.