The driving force behind El Clodenis is a Swiss who lives in Zurich but whose family is of Spanish origin. In an era when everyone seems to share everything on social media, this reserved and extremely private individual prefers to take a different path. It is not a façade. He forms part of the image that El Clodenis adopted last season: a culinary pop-up that doubled as a laboratory for artistic experiments. This strong and powerful image was so popular that he has become an iconic element of the restaurant. It is to be expected based on the professional background of this businessman and cultural promoter who is highly regarded in European artistic circles and who has always worked outside of Spain. This year, however, he has returned to Ibiza with a different restaurant concept that plans to stay.
I have been visiting the island since 1986. Although it has changed a great deal in the last 30 years, it still has that magic that appeals to Spanish and foreign tourists alike. For me, Ibiza is much more than a relaxing holiday destination. The bond is more emotional and sentimental, which is why I considered the idea of doing something here in order to offer part of my life experience at a spot as unique as El Clodenis.
Describe your relationship with art and avant-garde?
The connection is professional and also personal. It is professional because I have spent many years working on avant-garde art from a multidisciplinary perspective as a promoter, producer and director of cultural events. However, this is combined with my personal tastes as an art and antique buyer, along with my interest in design, architecture and experimental music.
How would you define the El Clodenis project?
It is a space with cultural and culinary ties. Our aim is to offer a different concept that combines a restaurant featuring magnificent food—and that happened to be extremely popular last year—with an artistic element that is quite rare on the island. My hope is for El Clodenis to be a meeting point for inquisitive people who come here in search of what is not available elsewhere.
El Clodenis© ffmag
Why did it start out as a pop-up? What has made it possible for El Clodenis to remain open year-round?
The format relied on an offering with an end date. We initially planned to open only 100 days out of the year based on how the project was designed, the goal in question, the team we had in place, etc. The concept was a test and we wanted to see how it would work and people’s reaction to it. Keep in mind that it was a new experience. The format was completely innovative: as far as I know, we were pioneers in creating a pop-up in Ibiza, and this year a number of others have decided to give this concept a try. In any case, regardless of whether or not we were the first, the idea was extremely popular. For this reason, we have decided to further evolve and transform the concept this year. El Clodenis has re-emerged as a project of the future and we plan on extending the season until December.
Does the incredible house where El Clodenis is located create a certain type of “pressure” to ensure the experience is in line with the setting?
Well, there is always pressure because every shift is like a new opening or performance. Ultimately, the spot is important, but in a positive way. This traditional 19th century Ibicencan payesa faces the church of San Rafael, and before becoming an emblematic restaurant, it was previously a private residence. It is absolutely breathtaking.
What is your definition of luxury?
I believe that true luxury is being able to enjoy a unique moment in good company and in an unbeatable setting like this one. Every room features a different project and we have managed to create a magical atmosphere. Our goal is to amaze customers by involving them in the performance.
What is the food like?
The culinary alternatives play a key role in ensuring customers enjoy a comprehensive experience. There are two alternatives: a casual, direct and fresh concept centred around ceviches and agualiches by Martín González, a young chef we recruited from Tulum, Mexico. His authentic creations have traditional roots with modern touches. They pair perfectly with an extensive mescal selection that stands out in terms of the variety and quality. The second alternative is by chef Antonio Relaño, who has designed an extremely modern, urban menu that boasts haute cuisine handiwork. The dishes combine multiple influences with techniques and flavours from all over the world that are melded with local Mediterranean roots. Everything is based on top-quality ingredients—one of our obsessions—, opting for ecological products whenever possible. Antonio has created a very innovative concept that is bursting with flavour. Last year it was extremely popular and this year it is expected to further exceed expectations because it conveys a spectacular creative moment. The perfectly coordinated team is another secret to our success.
Shirmp aguachile© ffmag
You have also opted for biodynamic wines and signature cocktails…
Yes. Natural, ecological and biodynamic wines are a hit throughout Europe, and sooner or later this will also be the case in Spain. Similar to a scouting party, we want to bring products that are succeeding abroad to the island. This has been our approach from the very beginning. At the end of the day, it is a combination of things. Our aim is to offer a different experience in a different setting.
What new features of El Clodenis can be highlighted this year?
Aside from the menu—which is completely new—and the décor, there will be many interesting things. We plan on featuring foreign chefs and hosting culinary workshops and tastings. I am also working on having a top DJ cook for friends and followers at El Clodenis. Ibiza is changing and reinventing itself, which is why I want to offer something different from what already exists and for it to serve as an example of what can be done by innovating this globetrotter cuisine built around top-quality ingredients. And all of this backed by a very important element: the price-quality ratio. We believe in setting honest prices so customers can steer clear of the ridiculously expensive trends that seem to be taking over the island. Our aim is to offer something affordable and reasonable to avoid having the price become a deterrent.
What are your projections for the season?
The forecast looks great. We have received booking requests for September along with proposed events, but everything will be analysed carefully because we do not want El Clodenis to become overcrowded. This is not a typical restaurant. A meal at El Clodenis is like dining at a friend’s house, where you are treated exceptionally and feel at ease with the service that is familiar without being overly forward. Everyone on the team is extremely professional, from the chef—who plays a key role in the project and has interpreted my philosophy perfectly—to the wait staff, all of whom have experience in the hospitality industry. It has taken a great deal of work to create this, but the time and effort have been worthwhile.
What challenges have you faced with this project in Ibiza?
Well, if the aim is to differentiate yourself from the rest and to be unique and reach a level of perfection, then there are many challenges. Ibiza is like a competition. Successfully surviving a season here is akin to working against the clock, but we are tougher than titanium and we will continue to grow, remain positive and always look forward.
El Clodenis© ffmag