Benoit Sinthon

Benoit Sinthon

Born in 1972 in Gardanne, near Marseille.

From a tender age he became accustomed to marketplaces – the freshness of the produce and the mystery of aromas. Beside his grandmother, Benoit awaited the weekends to go shopping the freshest available. He already helped in the kitchen and soon acquired the “technique” of fiddling with pans for the family meals.
By the age of 17 he already knew he wanted to be a cook and, strong-willed as he is, carved his own path:

Took his classes in Gap 05, in the french Alps, at the local professional hotel school, and got his bachelor’s degree in culinary arts. From there he worked in restaurants such as the Hostellerie du Valon de Valrugues, the Château de Rochegude (both Michelin-starred), the La Côte de St. Jacques with three Michelin stars and the Casa Velha Do Palheiro, member of Relais & Châteaux in Madeira. All of these experiences left a mark on him and he often drews from their discipline, creativity and inspiration.

In Madeira he becomes a Chef in close communion with the environment. That is where he feels happy – the products, the mild seasonality and the closeness with the sea constitute his day-to-day… And that is where he earns his Michelin star in 2008, at the Hotel Cliff Bay’s restaurante Il Galo d’Oro – to this day the only one in the island distinguished by the french guide.

The technique and distinction he imprints are classic french, but his cuisine is fluid and full of flavour, it flows with the available ingredients, integrates with seasonings that have always fascinated him: the aromatic cuisine, light where land and sea are combined. With strong influences from the place where he was born.

Restless, in 2010 he takes up on hotel chain Porto Bay’s CEO Dr. António Trindade and his Hotel Cliff Bay hotel director Jan Erik Ringertz invitation to develop a series of high cuisine events whose mission is to highlight the starred restaurants in Portugal and which follows an itinerary named Rota das Estrelas, today a most awaited event in every epicurious’ national gastronomy calendar, where all starred restaurants and chefs are present, along with international chefs invited to participate in these moments of celebration of the Iberian peninsula gastronomy.

From his various awards and distinctions he is particulary fond of:

2004 highlighted entry in the first edition of the famous International Who’s Who of Chefs book

2006 Il Gallo d’ Oro – Restaurant of the Year by Pegase Magazine

2007 Enthroned as an Escoffier Disciple

2008 November, Il Gallo d’ Oro’s first Michelin star

2010 nominated as President of Portugal’s Escoffier Disciple

2014 Il Gallo d’Oro is awarded the 2013’s best gastronomic restaurante by Wine Magazine

2015 earned 3 suns in the prestigious Guia Repsol

November 2015 Tourism silver medal

2016 Nº 265 LA LISTE of the world’s best 1000 restaurants

2016 Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence

2017 2 Michelin Star Il Gallo d’Oro

Cuisine philosophy

The flavour! Always the flavour - above all the simplicity of taste and the need to complete nature’s offer.

Seasonality. In Chef Benoit’s kitchen there’s a precept: the respect for time. And time is not just precision timing the perfect confection – it is also, in a broader sense, the respect for the year’s seasons best produce. And for that he cherishes the term “marketplace cuisine” as closest to his philosophy. Only in due seasons is the produce’s potential flavour at a maximum, and that is when he likes to cook them.

It’s a quick ride from this starting point to the incessant quest for the best the land has to offer. The search of new products, new flavours, of centuries-old habits renewed by today’s techniques. The blend of his memories and what he finds available on the spot where life took him is an eternal game of seduction. His respect for traditions and delving into the knowledge of the land that welcomed him make him a lover of Madeira’s gastronomy which he respects and tries to commend everyday.

Madeira, also known as the “Pearl of the Atlantic”, a piece of Africa – rich, fertile, of passionate climate that drives him to discover the Mercado dos Lavradores marketplace everyday; a place he calls his “garden of inspiration”: a cook’s colourful paradise, where each farmer provides his land’s best produce. Also, the fascination with farming and agricultural produce, so precious and varied, is part of his cuisine philosophy, the freshness, the authentic.

His favourites from Madeira are the fresh fish, seafood, the “bolo do caco”, vegetables and fruit, family, friends and his passionate work.

In a lunch-cum-interview, João Wengorovius wrote “Sometimes, we mix corn bread with this olive powder and we tell customers it’s Madeira sand, and laughed. That’s the first of many times where you notice the subversion, surprise and humour that are part of his cuisine philosophy”.

Yes, his cuisine reflects technique, simplicity, flavour and elegance… It sums up his wellbeing and joie de vivre!


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Get to know the book “Madeira by Chef Benoît Sinthon”.

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author : benoît sinthon
photography : henrique seruca
texts : luís vilhena
design : rubina santos