Ljubomir Stanisic doesn’t eat to live, he lives to eat. He is a cook, a chef, but much more than that… He is an eternal seeker. A sniffer. They say that those who seek will find. And Ljubo has been finding everything he’s been searching for all his life. Does fortune favors the bold?… Perhaps… It certainly took boldness (and a few more things) to leave is country, Yugoslavia, at the age of 19, to leave his family and friends and step into the unknown, alone. But luck is also built – and, apparently, it takes a lot of work …
Ljubo turned 40 on June 8, 2018. He was born in Sarajevo (the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina), but has lived in Portugal for more than two decades. He will soon open the restaurant he has been planning for more than three years. He premiered the second sea-son of the television phenomenon Pesadelo na Cozinha (Kitchen Nightmares) this Sep-tember. And on the 22nd of the same month, Bistro 100 Maneiras celebrated eight years of a happy existence. Many reasons to celebrate!
Anyone who knows Ljubomir Stanisic knows that a croquette is not just a croquette. The chef of 100 Maneiras and Bistro 100 Maneiras, in Lisbon, manages to combine chaos and harmony and even delight those who swear not liking certain things, such as offal, for example
Mesa Marcada, July 2016
These are different victories in a life of some defeats and many struggles carved in his body – and in his soul. He lived the war in Bosnia when he was still a teenager, forced to carry arms instead of riding a bicycle or playing basketball, he had to defend old men and children when he was still a child himself. He found refuge in different parts of the former Yugoslavia until arriving at Belgrade – and until that trip that brought him to Portugal.
He wanted to get away from everything: from that culture of war, but especially from the lack of future. He found motives as he traveled the world. And it was the world that made him the cook – the person – he is today. The defeats, the wars, made him stronger. And the difficulties made him appreciate the “little” things in life. The potatoes his mother cooked every day, when she had nothing else to put on the table…
The controversial cook and television star is passionate about food, about life. It is not only what they taste like – food and life – but above all how they make him feel. Potatoes will always mean comfort, but also scarcity and creativity. It is not by chance that he admires the gastronomy of Alentejo, made exactly of “lack” – and of flavor without concessions. But it was almost by chance (was it?!) that he eventually chose the Alentejo – and the Grândola region – to start thinking about his old age. But about that, he will “tell” you later …
Ljubo opened his first restaurant in Cascais at the age of 26 and is now the head chef and owner of two restaurants in Lisbon and consulting executive chef of Six Senses Douro Valley hotel. But he became a cook by necessity, while still in Belgrade, “emigrated” with his mother Rosa and his sister Natasa. At the age of 14 – and with the strength of the 20s – he got a job in a bakery. He worked at night and studied during the day. He didn’t even like the smell of bread, but he had to support his family. He slept on the bus on his way to school, during classes… Today he realizes the importance of this experience – and of his contact with Bobe, his employer: with him, he learned the value of work.
For the food lovers, seeing a foreigner speaking our language like many of us can’t, and spreading our story, our gastronomy and our country, is a reason for pride. It is a pleasure for those who, like me, see in the making of food, a way of sharing friendships.
Helena Sacadura Cabral, Delito de Opinião, September 2014
To escape the fines applied to those who didn’t study, still in former Yugoslavia, Ljubo attended Chemistry of Food, Bakery and Fine Pastry and International Cuisine. After moving to Portugal, he joined the Chocolate Technology course in Valrhona (France), Italian Cuisine and Sea Cooking, Vacuum Cooking, Molecular Gastronomy… But for the cook (chef is a title that he doesn’t care about), the most important “course” was experience. The work with chef Vítor Sobral, for example, who became his mentor and master. And Hugo Nascimento, his first colleague and friend, who became a brother for life.
He passed through restaurant Fortaleza do Guincho (1 Michelin star) before deciding to open his first place. The 100 Maneiras of Hotel Villa Albatroz, in Cascais, was the first of many. It was at this point that he published his first book, Cascais 100 Maneiras, in an author’s edition, it was here that he became known to the gastronomic world for the first time, where he won the first prizes (such as the Medal of Entrepreneurial Merit and Development of Culture and Tourism 2007 awarded by the city of Cascais, Best restaurant of contemporary cuisine 2007 by Veja magazine). But here, too, he went bankrupt. It was the end of 2008…
After a period of doubts – and debts -, of having considered leaving for China or Angola, he ended up accepting the help of two friends (Fausto and Carla Lopes) and, in January 2009, he opened the restaurant at 35, Rua do Teixeira, in Bairro Alto, his salvation rope. He wanted to democratize the author’s cuisine by offering a unique tasting menu at affordable prices, to share one of life’s greatest pleasures with as many people as possible. The city – the world – tasted and enjoyed it. And Ljubo, restless, continued. Growing stronger.
(…) this award is destined, much more than to the rigorous and genious cook, to the complete man, an actor of our public life, who cooks, hosts, creates, writes, travels, tells, accumulates experiences including products, recipes, techniques and stories, experiments in the kitchen, but also helps in the wine harvest, makes wines, is an entrepeneur with failures and – luckily, much more – successes, a main character in the film of our lives.
Luís Antunes, Revista de Vinhos, February 2016
In the gastronomic world, it’s not new to see a foreign chef discovering the ingredients and flavors of other lands. In Brazil, we have for example french Claude Toisgros and, why not claiming that, in Portugal, the Yugoslav Ljubomir Stanisic
Chef Magazine, Brasil, April 2012
Having said this, chef Ljubomir Stanisic is, without doubt, the most creative chef working in Lisbon (and maybe in Portugal).
Onde Vamos Jantar, July 2014
On September 22, 2010, he proudly opened the doors of an historical place in the heart of Chiado. One of the oldest restaurants in the country, former home of Tavares Pobre and Bacchus, became the business card of a strong-minded “Portuguese-Yugoslav”.
Bistro 100 Maneiras was born from the inspirations brought from Festival Lumière (Mon-treal / Canada), where Ljubo represented Portugal, the guest country of that year. And it quickly became a reference in the city. Bistro is a reflection of Ljubo, of his persona. It is a consequence of his experiences, his travels, his researches… With notes from former Yu-goslavia, where he was born and raised; touches of Portuguese traditions, where he be-came a man; and French influences, where he learned to eat. All seasoned with the his famous irreverence and impregnated with his passions: friends, wines and cocktails, art, music…
In 2011 he made his television debut as a jury in the first Masterchef Portugal, broadcast by RTP1. At the end of the same year, he made a great declaration of love for the country he adopted as home: he edited Papa Quilómetros – Uma caminhada pela gastronomia portuguesa, with Casa das Letras / Leya, his second book and the first written with his wife, Mónica Franco, distinguished with two world awards: one from the International Academy of Gastronomy and another from the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. In Spring 2012, the adventures of the book jumped to the small screen, with the show Papa Quilómetros, broadcast by Fox International Channels – first in Portugal and then through-out Europe.
Ljubo was converted. From passionate he became an ambassador: of the flavors, prod-ucts and producers, traditions and national landscapes. That trip through the country was over. Curiosity wasn’t. Never. In 2013, with his family aboard a campervan, he embarked on the Papa Quilómetros Europe project, traveling through the old continent with awak-ened senses, focused on discovering the gastronomy of the countries included in the itin-erary: Spain, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Aus-tria, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia. The trip was shared online, in weekly chronicles published in Expresso’s magazine and, later that year, in the book Papa Quilómetros Europa – the second written in partnership with Mónica Franco and published by Casa das Letras.
In 2015 he packs his bags again and leaves in a short but prolific trip that develops into the work 100 Cocktails 100 Maneiras, thought with Nuno Faria and Mónica Franco (who also signs the texts). All across the country, Ljubomir Stanisic and the team from Bistro 100 Maneiras bar searched for products, producers and landscapes that inspired new cock-tails, more than a hundred of them, published by A Esfera dos Livros in an unprecedented work in Portugal, highlighting the connection between the kitchen and the cocktails. More than a book, it is a statement of intent, a rupture with prejudice: a trend that marks the identity of Ljubo and 100 Maneiras.
In these 20 years of cooking, Ljubomir has won some awards, such as the “Mais Chefe” award at the “Óscares do Alentejo”, by Mais Alentejo magazine, due to his temporary work as a consulting chef at Sublime Comporta hotel in the Summer of 2017, but there was one that especially moved him: the David Lopes Ramos Gastronomy Award, awarded in 2016 by Revista de Vinhos. To remain forever associated with the name of a great figure in na-tional gastronomy, a journalist and critic, already deceased, who Ljubo admired and who helped him grow as a cook, is, more than a privilege, a responsibility.
Still in 2016, he took on a role that would change his way of thinking, acting, cooking… He became a gastronomic consultant for the first hotel of the prestigious Six Senses group in Europe (the Six Senses Douro Valley). If his connection to land, produce and producers has always been intense – first planted on the banks of the river Sava, on the border be-tween Serbia and Bosnia, at Uncle Misho’s house, where he learned how to fish and hunt, but especially to survive and respect the nature that nourishes us – now this connection was imprinted in his kitchen, in his food. Every day. It is on the banks of another river, the Douro, that he has been exploring a way of cooking with direct connection to health, well-being, sustainability. Without ever compromising taste and pleasure – two of the motiva-tions that make him live.
The audiences success of the first season of the Portuguese version of the show Kitchen Nightmares (Pesadelo na Cozinha), broadcast from March 2017 on TVI, put Ljubo in the mouths of the world, and for this work of “tuning” (or trying to…) 13 restaurants scattered throughout the country, registering historical records every week, he ended up being considered “Personality of the Year in Gastronomy 2017”, by Revista de Vinhos.
At the same time, Bistro 100 Maneiras is distinguished with a prize that will always make him proud: world number 1 in the Monocle Restaurant Awards 2017 – and the following year, it wins an honorable third place. After seven years of existence, the distinction presented by the prestigious lifestyle magazine to his second restaurant is a proof. Ljubo (and his team) are on the right track. Now they can only stay in the same path. The award of Best Brand / Concept attributed by AHRESP, already in 2018, underlined this certainty.
The years go by and Ljubo doesn’t stop. Restless, impatient, insatiable and unsatisfied by nature, he is known to be demanding (but generous), hard (and affectionate too).
He creates family ties in his restaurants. He gathers friends – Nelson Santos and Nuno Faria – to form a society. He brings the family to help him: his mother Rosa cooked with him in the opening months of the first restaurant in Lisbon and moved to Portugal when he opened Bistro; his sister Natasa has arrived at 100 Maneiras three years ago and became responsible for the purchasing and management department of the 100 Maneiras group. His wife, Mónica Franco, is responsible for his and 100 Maneiras’ image and communication, and with her he creates books, tv shows and concepts inside and outside the group.
Ljubo is the glue that keeps it all together. Able to move winds and tides to get wherever he wants to. Despite being a man without fears, he always listens to his heart, he is attentive to the signs. Like the one he was given by an old seer, handicapped and without legs, who people claimed to be holy, while he was still a refugee in Belgrade: she said Ljubo was going to live in a city in the middle of two different waters… A city, a country, where he found peace (and love!), the literal translation of the name “Ljubomir”.
Awards and Recognitions
Best chef 2005, Nectar Magazine
Restaurant of the Year 2005, Revista de Vinhos
Top 10 Best Restaurants in Portugal 2005, Revista Q
Medal of Entrepreneurial Merit and Development of Culture and Tourism, 2007, Cascais Chamber
Best Contemporary Cuisine Restaurant 2007, Veja magazine
“One of the most creative chefs working in Portugal”, em 2007, critic Rafael Santos
Top 3 Wine Menus, 2008
Top 20 Restaurant Guide Time Out Lisboa 2013
Featured on “No Reservations” Lisbon episode by Anthony Bourdain, 2012
Ljubomir Stanisic is one of the speakers in TEDx, Unversity of Porto, 2013
David Lopes Ramos Gastronomy Award 2016, Revista de Vinhos
Bistro 100 Maneiras is number 1 at the Monocle Restaurant Awards 2017
Óscar “Mais Chefe” 2017, awarded by Mais Alentejo magazine
“Personality of the Year in Gastronomy” 2017, by Revista de Vinhos
Best Concept/Brand in the AHRESP 2018 Awards