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Javier Sanz - Can Domo. Cooking up dreams

Javier Sanz – Can Domo. Cooking up dreams

Javier Sanz © ffmag

Somewhere in La Mancha (Casas Ibáñez, Albacete), Javier Sanz and Juan Sahuquillo were born 25 years ago. Close childhood friends, they grew up together in the kitchen of Juan’s family restaurant where “they worked from the moment they were able to think.” Today, Juan and Javier run Grupo Cañitas, and Cañitas Maite and Oba are their two flagship restaurants. Their passion for cooking has earned them numerous awards, and highlights include two Michelin stars (one red, one green) and two Repsol suns at Oba. Most important of all, it has succeeded in putting their village of 4,000 inhabitants on the culinary map. In 2022, the two young chefs from Albacete came to Ibiza to take charge of the food at Can Domo.


What is someone from Manchego like you doing in a place like Ibiza?
Juan (my partner) and I started at Can Domo a year and a half ago now. We saw a really exciting project with lots of possibilities and it fitted in well with our way of understanding food, so we took the chance and we’re really happy.

How would you define your cooking?
It’s simple cooking with no fireworks. Just a few ingredients, a sophisticated technique and really great produce. The hardest thing about having good produce is not ruining it. We try to have the very best at that particular moment, from the island, and serve it with two other ingredients at most that enhance the product without overwhelming it.

What aspects of Cañitas Maite and Oba can you find at Can Domo?
Oba makes sense because of where it is, in a really small village. Its discourse speaks of something very closed off. Cañitas Maite is more open and can cross borders. At Can Domo we’ve created a menu based on the food at Cañitas Maite, with a more Mediterranean feel, focusing on produce from the island. You’ll find lots of the Cañitas classics at Can Domo but with slight variations, to make them part of the island. For example, at Can Domo we make the cured shrimp in lomo de orza butter with sobrasada.

Iberian ham croquette. Can Domo

Iberian ham croquette © Can Domo

How many projects do you have now?
At home we’ve got Cañitas Maite, which is where it all began. That’s where we won the “Breakout Kitchen” and “Best Croquette in the World” awards as well as a Repsol sun and a Michelin Guide recommendation. Oba is our life’s work. It’s our dream. We opened last year and won a Michelin star, the green star and two Repsol suns. And now we’re refurbishing it to expand from 200 m to 1,200 m. We’ve also got La Taberñita, which is our most casual concept. It’s more aimed at people from the village and is really fun. We’re also directors of food at the Urban hotel in Madrid, at Cebo restaurant, where they’re doing really cool things. And, as well as Can Domo, we run an external events business with our head chef, Gonzalo, doing pop-ups and lots of other things... Now we’re going to open a couple of more casual bars in Madrid, plus the events division for weddings, banquets... Between one thing and another, we have around ten projects on the go.

What’s your secret to doing it all?
We’re a big team with lots of great people. Juan and I are at the head, which is different to being just one person. We have a team at Oba, just like we do at Cañitas Maite: extremely committed people, a solid team that believes in what we do and wants to keep taking small steps forward. In Madrid we have Borja, the former head chef at Cañitas, and Marisa, who was head waiter. Jesús and David are at Can Domo; they’re an incredible pair and we’ve known them for years. They’re people who are part of our project and will fight to the death with us. Gonzalo is in charge of all external events. It’s a question of knowing how to place all your pieces on the board, distributing them so that each one feels important. You have to make people on the team feel they matter and promise them growth.

What is the team like at Can Domo?
Most are the same as last year, which says a lot. David Bustos is head chef, he studied with us and, when we took on this project, met again by chance in Ibiza. He dropped everything to join us. Jesús is the other head chef, he has masses of experience. Having him join our group to share his maturity and help us with openings has been a huge help. Carlos has been head waiter since we started. He’s an amazing sommelier. One of the best head waiters I’ve ever seen.

What are the best foods that you’ve discovered in Ibiza?
There are so many products and the food on the island is so rich that we never stop discovering things. It’s amazing when you go to classic restaurants, like S’Espartar, to eat bullit de peix. One of our aims at Can Domo is to keep on learning about Ibiza’s food and adding products and dishes to the menu.

I was also surprised by how deeply rooted tradition is on the island

What has surprised you most about the island?
Ibiza has restaurants that are the greatest. I think Jondal, for example, is unique. And I was also surprised by how deeply rooted tradition is on the island. I think this tradition is being lost in the rest of Spain and it’s something that we try to emphasise. Ibiza has lots of traditional restaurants that have fought tooth and nail to defend their cooking for fifty years.

Burrata salad. Can Domo

Burrata © Can Domo

You have a restaurant group, Michelin stars, Repsol suns... And you’re only 25 years old. How do you see your future?
It seems like we’ve only been going for three years but we were born in a restaurant. My family had a small ‘menu of the day’ restaurant and I lived, literally, in the flat above. Juan (my partner) was my best friend, we spent all day together and worked there from when we were old enough to think. This is what we trained for and has always been our passion and hope for the future. We’ve eaten in the best restaurants. We’ve always wanted to learn and find out more. When you’re so deep in this world because it’s your life, what you want is to be better every day. We want to take this to the very top. Oba has made it really far in a year, especially bearing in mind where it is. That’s why we’re going to change it to launch a new project that we’ll probably be paying off for the rest of our lives. But that’s what we really want.

What do you do when you’re not cooking?
I love going out to eat somewhere. Sometimes we go wild and go and eat at Noma or in the Faroe Islands. But, in everyday life, what I love is going fishing by the river: the peace and calm of being deep in nature, with no phone signal... That’s what helps me unwind from my day-to-day stress.

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