A coffee with… Remy Manso

Sitting in a quiet restaurant off the station for a dinner-briefing, Corie asked me:  – What about Remy Manso for next interview?
– Who? -, I replied – clear signal I have moved to Luxembourg only very recently.
– He is the owner of numerous and interesting restaurants in Luxembourg. It manages at least a dozen, mostly Latin, including El Barrio.
– I love El Barrio. – I suddenly replied, after that name caught my attention  – So, of course I’m in -.
I followed up Corie’s contact with Remy and took an appointment with him – guess where? – at El Barrio, which, at 11 am, had a surreal calm atmosphere – if you have been there in the night, you will definitely understand what I mean.
After few minutes into our talk, I’ve found out that there could not have been a better chance to meet Remy, since he just opened his thirteenth place. Yes, you read that correctly. Piri Piri is number 13 restaurant of Manso Group. And it is a Portuguese restaurant, that aims to become the top of its genre in the city – but we will get there later.

Angela: I am so pleased to meet you, Remy, I cannot hide that I imagined you to be older. How can you be so young and have all this responsibilities? And managing so many restaurants and being so relaxed?
Remy: I work in a structured way, starting at 8.30 am with reservations and finishing at midnight after going around all the premises, or almost. I try to be present here and there every day, except one: Sunday, that for me means football… (laughing) …And then I surrounded myself with trusted collaborators, without them I would never have arrived here. You need to invest in reliable people, the best ones and I have chosen them among my old friends. We grew up and evolved together. It’s not only me to succeed in the business, but the whole team.
A: Do you give me a few names of your children?
RDäiwelskichen, Batucada, Chimi Churri, Manso, JFK, The Game Utopolis, The Game Downtown, Toro Toro, El Barrio, El Gato, Boca Loca in Echternach, Gringo’s and Piri Piri, the latest born.

A: Wow! So many! So we can talk about the plans for the future in a while. Now I’m curious to know how you started. Can you tell me more about your takeoff?
R: After school, I went to work with my father, who is no longer there. I learned a lot from him because he was a self-made man, really starting from nothing. He arrived in Luxembourg from Portugal in 1982 and in the evening, after work, he slept in the car. I owe him everything. I started out as a dishwasher, then as a cook and then, together, we managed Daiwelskichen and Batucada, both of which still exist. Growing up without skipping steps is very important. Only in this way can you learn to know how to really manager your business. There are many people who come from a completely different background and want to open a restaurant. They believe that it is enough to put their banner outside the door to make millions. It does not work like this. I have the notion of reality. I study the market and try to understand it, without ever believing I have fully understood it.

A: On the other hand, how do you choose what and where to open?
R: Here we are neither in Paris nor in Milan or New York. The population is limited and you have to study the territory and the public well before opening a gastronomic point of any kind. The people of Luxembourg invest a lot of their free time in the gastronomic circuits or in the cocktail bars, but, even if it is high-handed, they do not like to be fooled. The Luxemburgish do not give a second chance. So I open a new place only after doing an X-ray to the market. At that point, if I decide to start a new adventure I choose the best, point to quality, adequate and valuable interior design and I pay attention to the quality / price ratio. I do not mean to be a perfect owner, but I always work very honestly and this allowed me to get to the number 13 🙂

A: Yes! Quite right! You mentioned that with the new entry you are at a peak of 13. Tell me about the newborn!
R: It’s called Piri Piri and it’s a bomb. The kitchen, for the first time for my group, is Portuguese, like my homeland, but far from the one already proposed here in the city. Our culture is melancholic and evokes calm and sadness. This is why I have always preferred to open local Brazilian, Argentinian, Mexican and Spanish. I like to dance and also mojitos 🙂 But it was time to do something to pay homage to my father, who would have wished to open a restaurant with the flavors of his land. I also wanted to do something for the Portuguese community that is very large here. With my partners we had a lot of fun choosing the pottery and furniture, and I tested all the dishes. It is a restaurant completely different from what is already there in Luxembourg. Beautiful inside, with attention to the smallest details, with a traditional touch, but with a modern, refined and very rich design. Even the cuisine has its roots in Portugal, the flavors are authentic, but pervaded by a new twist. Some hints? The cod ceviche for example.

A: What does Piri Piri mean?
R: (Laughing). It’s a curious name, isn’t it? It is a spicy pepper typical of Portuguese cuisine. I chose it because it is very evocative.

A: Good luck then! So now we got a bit on the personal side. How can you be sure you differentiate one place to the other and you just don’t “copy paste”? I want to say: out of 14 restaurants, it takes imagination to avoid the same concept from happening again, doesn’t it?
R: Since working with my father, we have always chosen to address to an audience that loves the “Latin fiesta“. And so from the local Brazilian, to Argentine meat, passing through Mexican cuisine, without forgetting the Mediterranean area, one thing is certain, in my restaurants there is always a common factor that is the caliente style and typical of the Latin culture, but with an always different menu. I choose some detail that differentiates them, so that each place has its own identity. And where the food proposal looks similar, it is the location to be different – in the city and out-of-town for example. Said that, I believe that El Barrio is the strongest of all, is the “maison mère” because here everything has been done to perfection, just thinking about the fact that we have chairs for 400 Euro each, we have 20 people only in the kitchen and we have a kind of meat that is the top: the wagyu beef. Maybe I will seem arrogant, but I think there is nothing better in the city for quality / price ratio. I must also add that a great job had been done before I arrived, when it was still La Boqueria. I’ve always been fascinated by this place, in fact I wanted to direct it many years ago, but I was too young and they did not take me seriously. Better like this! Now I’m more mature and able to manage it.

A: Tell me the truth Remy, do you have a place in your heart among all?
R: Yes, Manso Restaurant occupies a special place. That’s where I put more about myself! The concept and the menu talk about me. Before and during the opening, in every place of the Mediterranean in which I went on holiday, I identified dishes that excite me most and put them in paper. Some dishes are Spanish, some Italian, some still Greek, and Portuguese and French are not lacking. But this choice was a mixed blessing! Do you know why? The “Mediterranean Cuisine” category is too vast and does not allow the Manso to have a well-defined identity. Usually the identity makes it the nationality of origin of the gastronomic proposal or the main ingredient of the menu. This is missing at the Manso. In the eyes of the public you can eat anything and everything, which is equivalent to nothing precise. So if at lunch I have a good customer basis mainly due to the offices nearby, in the evening we are penalized because people choose to go there they know exactly what to expect.

A: Oh, I’m sorry. Do you have a plan B?
R: Of course! Despite being in my heart, I will soon say goodbye to it!

A: Ah no, it was your favorite! And then will they become 12 again?
R: Noooo! Not at all! They will always be 13 because Manso Restaurant will turn into something else. And here’s the news for the year 2019 😉

A: Are you telling me that you have another opening in mind when you just opened Piri Piri?
R: Yes, yes. And yes, this will be an absolute novelty because for the first time I will be completely different from my kind to open a restaurant serving Greek cuisine. On the other hand, half of my members are Greeks. And we want to do it well! In the best way. We will also go to Greece to get ideas, so we will gain in authenticity and ideas.

A: Fantastic Remy. And when do you intend to open it?
R: We will start work in January.
A: Wow. I’m afraid that if we stay here to talk a little bit, you can make me a program of openings until 2030 …
R: Hahah no. I do not intend to reach 20, but creativity and the desire to do are certainly not lacking.

A: Thank you for your time Remy. It was a true pleasure meeting you.

I greet my interlocutor, but before going he shows me something that I adore. A nice piece of wagyu beef comes out of the kitchen to finish immortalized straight in my hands. Ok, I do not know what to put on my 2019 to try list first: Piri Piri or wagyu here at El Barrio. What would you say?

Pictures: Giacomo Salvemini (instagram.com/slv)

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Guest Blogger: Ross Campbell

Today on the blog we welcome a column by the guest blogger of the month, Ross Campbell. Ross relocated from US to Luxembourg one year ago and loves the life in the Grand-Duchy.

One Year Down and I’m Still In Awe of Luxembourg Food

As an American, I didn’t move to Luxembourg to save money, I moved there because I fell in love with the culture and especially the food. Not only are many of the food options in the city more delicious and seemingly made with more care than what you would find in American restaurant, but they are generally healthier as well.

Where to Eat in Luxembourg

I’ve been living in Luxembourg for about 14 months now, and over that course of time I’ve come to know a few different restaurants that I can always count on. They’re what I would call old favorites by now, and each one of them has two things in common. They’re reasonably priced and you can generally get a meal there for less than 20 Euro, and they offer excellent food made from quality ingredients.

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La Campagnola in Steinsel

This unassuming little Italian restaurant offers excellent tasting food at lower than average prices. It’s one of my favorite locations to eat at within the surrounding Luxembourg area, and I personally really enjoy the pizza here. For less than 20 euro you can get a good rich pizza with toppings of your choosing, and it’s particularly enjoyable when paired with a good quality wine, and there are many wine options available.

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La Riviera in Bereldange

This little gem of a restaurant offers up a mixed selection of food types. There are pizzas and other Italian dishes, but you’ll also find French-inspired options. The tartar here is especially good, but many of the pizzas are also enjoyable and there is always a good selection of fresh toppings to choose from, which keeps me coming back for more. If you’re a fan of Italian wine, this restaurant also has quite a bit to offer in that regard as well, with several good strong options for each dish that you decide on.

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La Romantica in Moutfort

Finally, there is La Romantica out in Moutfort. This is a place that I’ve come to love, despite the large crowds of people and the tightly spaced tables. This is one of the best places to go and get a huge pizza that is cooked within a fiery oven that you can enjoy with friends. There are tons of toppings to choose from, and they’re all nice and fresh and full of flavor. Most of the pizza options are excellent here, and you can also pick up your food to go if you would like.

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My Challenges Moving to Luxembourg

While I certainly can’t complain about the food or living conditions in Luxembourg (both of which are excellent) I can say that I wish the overall process of getting set up here was as simple as finding the amazing restaurants throughout the area. I struggled through the Visa process, as many non-student Americans will when moving to Europe. I had to get my permit within 90 days and I had to show them I was working and could provide for myself adequately financially and I also had to prove who I was by showing my passport, my health certificate showing my recent vaccinations and a lease contract provided by my new landlord. This was all handled through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

I didn’t want to leave behind my small household property including my clothing, computer, books and other personal items so I had them boxed and shipped in the cargo area of the plane to accompany me when I arrived. My car took a little more effort as I had to have it shipped with an international car shipping company, A-1 Auto Transport, Inc., and I paid just under $3800 USD to have it shipped overseas and then transported by land to my new home in Luxembourg. When you bring a car to Luxembourg, you must provide paperwork including the registration, title, permit of residency and a passport to show you are the actual owner. It is time consuming, but having your own car here is a great convenience when you want to travel or sight-see once you arrive.

If you’re a foodie like I am, there’s really no place that can come close to comparison to Luxembourg, at least no place I’ve been to and I have traveled extensively for quite a few years. I encourage you to come and visit and try eating at a variety of restaurants to get a feel for the area. Sure, you may find the cost of living a little higher than in the U.S., but there is a lot to love about this cultured city.

 

If you wish to participate to the guest blogger column, feel free to send an email to Barefoot in Luxembourg!

Guest Post: Patricia & Reale Restaurant in Castel di Sangro, Italy

Good Morning Folks! I am particularly happy today as it is going to be a short week for me and a super girly trip abroad will take me out of Luxembourg for some days.

I have decided to feature a blogger each and every couple of weeks and today is the turn of Patricia.
Patricia is a an incredible Brazilian architect – and an amazing mum – who has lived for years in Milan and moved to Luxembourg for love some years ago. She has an awesome inspiration page on Facebook (check it here) and you can either follow her on Instagram.

She has been recently on a trip to Italy and she visited this fascinating restaurant in the Abruzzo region.

Reale” restaurant is located in Castel di Sangro, Abruzzi region, Central Italy, in the premises of Hotel Casadonna. The restaurant was awarded in 2014 with the maximum recognition for the worldwide cuisine, the 3 Michelin Stars – something extremely rare for an eatery lost in such remote location.

Born as a typical Abruzzo restaurant today it has a more regional connotation to stand and highlights the raw materials of the territory. And the kitchen is definitely very unique and intriguing.
The settings of the restaurant are the mirror of the kitchen, the concept of the restaurant is controversial” in a positive connotation even if only by trying the dishes and visiting “live” the environment you can understand the true taste of the cuisine, you can feel the true essence of the space the architectural design and furnishing are very pure and synthetic, just to embrace the dishes that are the central feature and that color this neutral enclosure.

Below you can enjoy some pictures of our dinner and the location. Whenever you will visit this region in Italy, I hope you will book your stay at “Reale“, because it is really worth a try – and we are going there each and every time we got the chance.

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One Lovely Blog Award

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What a pleasant start of the morning! Betty nominated Barefoot in Luxembourg for One Lovely Blog Award.

Check out Betty’s blog: Betty’s Fashion Lounge: she posts her super trendy outfits, writes about lifestyle and daily inspirations – I love her beauty related posts!
Thank you so much Betty!

The aim of this award is to reward a blog that fellow bloggers consider to be lovely.

The Guidelines for the One Lovely Blog Award are:

1) Thank and link back to the person who nominated you for the award (check 🙂 )
2) Add the One Lovely Blog Award logo to your post.
3) Share 7 facts/things about yourself.
4) Nominate 15 bloggers you admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blog.

So, about me:

1) I love ice cream. It is probably my fav food ever and I can eat it even with -20 degrees outside.
2) The name of my blog is coming from “Barefoot in the Park”, a lovely and funny movie from the 60′ with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford.
3) Indeed, I really like movies from that period. I watched all Hitchcock movies and I was in love with Paul Newman – even if when I was born he was already too old for me.
4) I have lived in Milan for the merriest seven years of my life. I thought I would have never ever left that city and when it happened I never talked about that period again and I am trying not to go there if not strictly necessary, – like a boyfriend you broke up with even you still in love, knowing things could not work out, I use to say.
5) I have five tattoos. My mom knows I have two.
6) I met my husband in a nightclub. At 3 am. On a Sunday night.
7) My best moment from 2014, after my civil wedding, was The Libertines’ reunion at Hyde Park.

So, blogs I nominated are:

1) Luxessed
2) Claire Bonello
3) London Unravelled
4) Une Prise De Luxe
5) Poppy MarshMellow
6) Learn Luxembourgish
7) YaYaVanChique
8) Trace Ta Route
9) Simply V.
10) What 2 How 2
11) Julie loves Beauty
12) Champagne & Macarons
13) Sweetness in the City
14) An Expat Mom in Luxembourg 
15) Yourshop.lu