In the bustling world of South African culinary delights, there’s a name that has earned its stripes and carved a niche for itself – Alex Torrão. Well deserving of being in the limelight as our Foodie Friday feature, we delve into the life, passion, and successes of this remarkable culinary artist, whose journey is a testament to the power of perseverance and a deep love for food.
Born in South Africa to second-generation Portuguese parents, Alex’s early years were a blend of diverse cultures and flavours. Raised in Portugal and Macau, he was virtually steeped in a rich culinary heritage. His very first job, as a wide-eyed youth, was in a Portuguese bakery in Macau, where he perfected the art of creating the famous Pasteis de Nata.
Alex’s love affair with cooking began in Macau, where he was entranced by the myriad street food vendors selling mouthwatering noodles and dumplings. One bite was all it took to ignite a lifelong passion for food and cooking.
His journey in the food industry kicked off at the tender age of 16 and with this early exposure paved the way for an internship at the prestigious Westin Hotel, where he honed his skills in the kitchen. Subsequently, he made the life-changing decision to move to Australia, balancing university studies with various roles in hotel kitchens.
In 2011, Alex relocated to South Africa in search of fresh opportunities. That’s when he took a bold step by launching his food truck company, Eighty8’s Food Co. Focusing primarily on private and corporate catering, this venture has become a resounding success in the South African street food scene. Notably, Alex also introduced two intriguing pop-ups: @AT8PLATE, a fine-dining restaurant open during the winter months on Thursdays and Fridays, and @Noodsjoint, a unique Asian-style noodle and ramen pop-up, shrouded in secrecy, open only on Fridays at undisclosed locations.
The highlights of Alex’s career include numerous awards for his food truck company, which has been nominated multiple times as the best food truck company in South Africa. These accolades reflect his unwavering commitment to quality and innovation.
Of course, no success story is without its challenges. In South Africa, the food scene was relatively nascent, and established franchised brands held sway. However, Alex’s dedication and the sheer deliciousness of his offerings have gradually won over the hearts and taste buds of South Africans.
When asked about his absolute favourite dish, Alex’s answer is a classic – Steak, Egg, and Chips, paired with a cold beer. Simplicity at its finest.
As for the future, Alex is looking to expand his footprint and introduce a franchise model for Eighty8’s Food Co. This venture aims to provide opportunities for fellow South Africans to embark on their own culinary journeys.
Alex Torrão’s culinary journey is an inspiration for aspiring food entrepreneurs. His blend of diverse influences, dedication, and innovation has not only earned him recognition but has also enriched South Africa’s food culture. As he continues to create delectable dishes and explore new horizons, we can’t help but look forward to what he’ll serve up next on South Africa’s vibrant food scene.
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