Essential Lisboa

June — 2011


For some time now, several regional “gourmet” brands, more or less traditional, have emerged presenting their products in a contemporary or purposefully revivalist clothing, aimed at attracting the attention of potential consumers.

They are not new, just a current trend that stands against the predominant massification in the food industry and to which the market has already proven receptive. 

Among other accolades, these small firms have the merit of adding value to products that, on their own, have no chance of breaking the logic of supply and demand. At the same time, they help to revive and even foster the emergence of small industries, ensuring the continuity of several traditions, some of which are in serious danger of disappearing.

But if preservation is important, it is even more so to ensure its continuity. 

José Gourmet, a family business founded by Adriano Casal Ribeiro with the help of designer and illustrator Luís Mendonça (one of the twins responsible for Eterogémeas publisher), is one of the brands that operates in this area with an interesting combination of genuinely Portuguese products and the creative capacity of new generations.

With little over two years of existence, José Gourmet finds in design one of its main factors of differentiation. The originality and quality of the approach is well evident in what has now become the highlight of the business – the packaging of the collection of cans and latest jams. To create it, Luís Mendonça enlisted the help of several illustrators and a writer, Emílio Remelhe, who is responsible for the imaginative texts that describe the products contained inside. 

José Gourmet sells their products on a fair-trade basis. Besides canned food and preserves, they also deal with olive oils, vinegars, cheeses, wines and spirits, to name a few, whose origin and manufacturer, as Casal Ribeiro makes a point of informing, are always properly identified. 

But if the packaging is a sight for sore eyes (because we also eat with our eyes!), what lies inside is certainly not left to chance. In addition to a careful selection of suppliers, José Gournet has been collaborating with Luís Baena, one of the most renowned Portuguese chefs with a passion for experimentation, who developed a set of recipes for children and adults to go with the cans. He is currently working on new products, such as the traditional lamprey that he wants to put up for sale preserved in a jar.

The brand is available in the best gourmet stores of the country and briefly in several hotels, but Adriano Casal Ribeiro reminds us that their main goal is internationalisation. Products can already be found in Luxembourg, Spain and the Czech Republic, and they have already begun exporting to Denmark, Brazil, Ireland, Macau and Hong Kong.

Ideas for the future are in no short supply for Adriano, who has plans to open a José Gourmet space in Porto. In addition to the gourmet products, the store will feature national merchandising developed by the brand, as well as the result of one of the projects that Adriano is most excited about. He prefers not to reveal anything yet, but as always it will bear the traditional Portuguese seal.

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