k Ibiza Food Studio k
k The social dining club that has taken the island by storm k
Welcome to Ibiza Food Studio nestled in the steep cobbled backstreets of Sa Penya, the less salubrious part of Ibiza’s Old Town which was once the home to the Ibizencan fishermen of yesteryear and now home to Romany residents and feral cats.
Ibiza Food Studio is a ruby in the dust that I have wanted to make a song and dance about for a while now but have been asked to keep it under wraps by the people behind this new and incredible hidden treasure. This secret den of culinary brilliance is the brainchild of Boris Buono whose noteworthy CV credentials include Noma, the restaurant voted Best in the World time and time again…need I say more? Born and raised by a Danish mother and Italian father, food and drink was always ingrained in his world. With his glistening blue eyes, twitchy moustache and golden hair tucked under his trademark Andalusia cowboy hat, Buono unintentionally mimics a fabulous fantasy figure that would not be misplaced in Lord of the Rings!
What intensifies the uniqueness of his facade is his eloquence – Buono is an evocative philosopher who assembles art on a plate with equal amounts of poignant introspection on the world of food and it’s significance on our lives. The Food Studio is a gift to Ibiza from the gastronomy gods and I was recently honoured to spend a day with Buono and his wonderful team of culinary crusaders.
This ‘social dining room’ is a collaborative collective of some exceptionally raw talent, joining Buono are Christen Pihl, Michael Larsen (both fellow Danes) and Brit Alex Marks. They certainly make a formidable food force.
So how did this journey begin?
“Christen and I met in Denmark 15 years ago when I was maybe not the coolest chef at that time. I think my head was perhaps a little bit too big”.
“It still is” chuckles Christen from across the kitchen – their banter is something that continues all afternoon!
“We both had the same professional family” continues Buono. “We did a little bit of work together but then didn’t see each other until 18 months ago on the dance floor of DC10 on New Years Day.” How fabulously Ibiza.
“Christen, Michael and I later got together and said let’s do something brilliant…and The Food Studio was born. I thought I don’t give a fuck what other people think, I’m gonna cook exactly what I want and charge what I want for it. When I first came to Ibiza I immediately thought whoa, there is space for me here. It seemed that the island was missing a little bit of magic – and where we are located at the moment is a very personal place.
For me, it’s like coming back home every time I step through the door. It’s somewhere where I want people to be able to act like they do at home.” And I have to admit he is totally right, there is undeniable warmth here, your shoulders drop straight away and you do feel at completely at home.
Leah Prentice, the beautiful and vivacious manager/hostess warmly announces…”we always welcome friends not customers and expect people to treat the house as their own”. She goes onto to explain that every element of the menu comes from ibiza or the surrounding waters. “We go shopping and see what the island gives us and design the menu after that rather than design the menu and go out shopping. This way we ensure that everything is seasonal and as fresh as possible.”
“I love this set up” sighs Buono. Why shouldn’t I have a restaurant in my own home? This way I’ll never be completely at work, home will always be here too! This year it has enabled me to have a tremendous feeling of freedom but I also know a restaurant’s purpose is to restore people, this has been my little ego project for years.”
I joke that modern chefs don’t really want to associate themselves with a big ego label though?
“Oh no, I have a massive ego, I’m nailing it here every day ha ha!”
Just recently Kristian Brask Thomsen – a culinary ambassador and good friend of Buono, made a heartfelt statement that turns this tongue in cheek bravado into a sweet contradiction.
“Boris believes in love over money, creation over status, honesty over popularity, companionship over stardom. Boris is a golden pocket watch in a digital age which makes him rare, special and able to create uniqueness out of creativity, which also makes him fragile to cynical thinking and twisted intentions”.
“The Food Studio is a platform for all of us to share, its not just my menu, it’s our menu…our ideas are all together on a plate.”
When I remarked on the influx of top end restaurants and up and coming chefs on the island Christen adds ‘”it focuses us, it motivates us to stay in the game, continue to reinvent ourselves… and with more great chefs now coming to the island, the more we are going to benefit from it”.
Until last year this place was an unloved, borderline derelict apartment. Buono tells me there was nothing here except a staircase, broken bottles, rubbish and a lot of cockroaches.
He has scrubbed and restored the entire place and filled it with wonderful salvaged gems – an eclectic mix of tables made from antique ship beams, with fluffy sheepskins adorning the delightful rickety benches that surround the community tables. All subtly lit by candlelight and a remarkable fisherman’s basket turned into a rustic ‘chandelier’ (I honed in on the fact that it came from my favourite local junk yard – we have a shared interest of up-cycled treasure it seems).
The tableware is a food stylists dream – a perfect collection of the hand crafted clay dishes, Ibiza stone slabs…
…pebbles and indigenous Sabina wood planks.
All delivered in the proper sense, not ‘immitation rustic’ which is now so commercial which I personally find so jarring.
One thing however that I am immediately drawn to after entering through the heavy wooden front doors is a heartbreakingly stunning crystal – a rose pink quartz. It’s HUGE and embedded in the kitchen work surface…what is this all about?! Buono tells me that it was actually one of the few crazy wonderful original features when he arrived. What a moving in present. He whimsically whispers, “Since I’ve moved in here my life has been amazing, it helps me every day. It resonates love. You know that crystal DNA is very close to human DNA, it really balances me and is totally calming.”
I remark how impractical it is though as it takes up about a third of the already limited work surface. “I agree but I don’t care, it is totally magical.”
I silently agree with him, it really does enhance the room’s energy creating an alluring harmony and calm. Perhaps it even keeps the kitchen’s testosterone levels in check as this is the most non-shoutey kitchen I’ve ever been in.
We go on to chat about the correlation of food and music in Ibiza. “Food and music have a lot of things in common. When we were ancestral we were simply looking for food to survive, then along came art. Music, painting, sculpture and so on – as soon as humans had some creativity in their heads they began to use it in many different areas, such as food. I definitely believe that food is an art form in that way – creating a magic that we are all searching for. Also for myself, music is so important and in Ibiza there is so much choice that you can be really selective. It helps me to channel my energy, forget about everything and the party is a creative space where we can be ourselves in so many different ways. Chefs and DJs definitely go hand in hand – it’s a magic food world”.
From a tender age Buono had an early appreciation of wine and throughout his stellar career was exposed to the world’s finest sommeliers. He has honed his knowledge and partnered with one of the best ecological / biodynamic/ natural wine wholesalers in Bernat Tatjer Serrahima.
“Some of the wines are produced by a method over a thousand years old using an amphora where the grapes are fermented by being buried in the ground so it’s as natural as you can get. My interest in wine came from a very early age. It was so important in my family, no food without a good wine was our rule! And later in my career I was lucky enough to be work together and under some of the worlds best sommeliers. It’s a fact that if you have tasted thousands of wines rather than a few hundred you end up knowing a great deal more. Over the years I have been able to do the wine lists myself, which gives you more freedom as you can do the food for the wine, not the other way round. As I say, you can change the food but you cannot change the wine. Paring cocktails and food is something that is really growing on me at the moment where you can infuse and so on and so on”. I am looking forward to that one.
We go onto to discuss concerns about mass food production and it’s impact on the world, something they are hoping to address with a message via their menus. “We need to believe and hope that the new generation are educated in food. Basically our parents fucked it up and yes, to an extent we fucked it up too. But technology is progressing, for instance we are working closing with an urban farm in Berlin that is biodynamic and organic. It’s not wild as such, but it is nature which is tamed and we feel that this is the future for sustainability and the increasing population. At the end of the day, we all have to think of the alternatives. This is why we do what we are doing, there is a hope, we need to believe in it as it is how the future world of our families and our kids will be defined. It’s not tomorrow, it’s today and this is The Food Studio’s little contribution. It’s a Buddhahood, bringing our knowledge to improve and make it a better world. Let’s all make an extra effort.”
At this point Christian wanders over to join the discussion. “In my own childhood and professional career the first thing I learnt was to follow the seasons. It costs half the price and delivers double the flavour, for us it seems silly not to do it. Fruit and vegetables produced all year round that costs 5 times the amount of money? Nonsense. At the time people thought it was great that you could eat strawberries in the winter but now they are realising that it’s not right and it all just tastes of water.”
The Food Studio team are ambassadors of a thoughtful food movement – meticulous about their produce and its provenance. They have collaborated with the island’s best organic farms, artisans and fishermen, all coupled an incredible wealth of knowledge about indigenous wild produce.
All of them total foraging experts with Alex somewhat of a botanist, effortlessly rattling off the Latin names of all the seasonal edible wild flowers as he goes about his work in the kitchen. It is a joy to behold. Their style is natural, rustic minimal with a Scandi influence – always seasonal, a lot of vegetables, heavy on fish and light on meat – with a touch of foraged, raw, pickled and smoked.
Alex goes on to say “We are trying to source more local fish, of course sardines are fantastic but there are other amazing fish such as amberjack, barracuda, grouper and butterfish – but people don’t use them because most are only familiar with the likes of sea bass, dorada and hake”.
“Ultimately we are only as good as the raw materials we have in this magic food world” concludes Buono.
This collective of creative minds has culminated in a simple yet ingenious concept – thoughtful Michelin standard food served under your best friends roof. Artful, vibrant and unique – like the fair hands that produce this magic on a nightly basis.
Or nirvana for any true Bon Vivant. As for me? Well, I’m ready to pack my bags and move in right now!
For reservations at Ibiza Food Studio call 00 34 6227 84914