Born in Chile and raised in the heart of a modest family, Mari Paz Tamayo is a self-made woman, chef and creator. After the success of her first culinary project on the island -Natural Pau- Mari Paz is now daring herself again with a new personal and professional challenge: Can Riku (San José). She has created a new “flexitarian” cooking concept for her new restaurant where everyone is welcome to share tables and enjoy a fun, smart atmosphere, a varied menu and service that takes care of every last detail.
Where does Mari Paz Tamayo come from?
I was born in Chile in a beautiful village of vineyards. I come from a modest family and my mother was a cook. She loved cooking. Everything she made, she made with passion. And she definitely passed that passion on to me.
How did you come to Ibiza?
I came to Europe, to Barcelona, when I was 20. I began working in the hotel industry, always in things related to food. And I ended up in Ibiza by chance; I came with a friend who was coming over for the season and I started working in restaurants. That was when I realised I loved gastronomy and that I had it in my blood. I moved from kitchen to kitchen, then I became a mother and experienced a really wonderful time... And then we opened a restaurant: Natural Pau. That confirmed for me that I really am a creator: more than a cook or someone who works in a bar, I realised that I’m a kind of artist because I don’t just like creating dishes, it’s also the visual content, creating atmospheres, decoration, colour palettes... To be honest, it’s what all women are, we’re creators.
I realised that, more than a cook, I’m a creator. It’s what all women are: we’re creators
How was Can Riku created?
The Can Riku project has been created to consolidate my career in Ibiza’s restaurant industry and for an even more important reason: to create something for myself, for me. Can Riku is my project, my baby. It was born out of the idea of creating a place where people are welcome in a gastronomic, smart, Mediterranean atmosphere with a “flexitarian” food concept. I’m passionate about the idea of being flexible, of not being radical about one food option alone. The flexitarian option is wonderful because it covers everything. I wanted to create a space where everyone can share a table, from a vegan to a meat-eater. Things have changed a lot and, at the moment, everyone has their own way of eating, lots of people are intolerant to certain foods... When you open the doors of a restaurant, the range has to be huge to be able to serve every kind of diner. I’d always liked the idea of flexitarian cooking since I studied cooking in Barcelona. Can Riku has that philosophy, a great atmosphere, varied cooking and good service: I think it’s the perfect combination.
The product is crucial to your cooking...
In Italy I learned something amazing: quality raw materials, quality product. I’m a loyal fan of Italian cooking. I think that the concept of simple flavours with everything based on cooking times and adding salt is incredible. Tagliatelle with rocket, Parmesan and meat with the perfect cooking time and amount of salt doesn’t need anything else. I place a lot of importance on raw materials and making dishes that are also visually good enough to eat.
And you’re also a sommelier...
Yes. I did a course and skipped my holidays to keep on studying, and last year I did the advanced course. I’m Chilean and come from a land of vineyards. I've always liked wine and realised that it’s a world full of passion. I am passionate, so I think it was obvious that wine and I would be the perfect match. The world of wine is amazing: produce from the land, the production, the history behind each vine... Who doesn’t like wine?
Which ingredient couldn’t you live without?
Enthusiasm. I think it’s the essential ingredient for everything. And that defines who I am, in both the culinary world and personally. I think you have to have enthusiasm for doing things.
I think enthusiasm is the essential ingredient for everything
How do you personally feel right now?
I feel good about myself, which is the most important thing. I’m proud of having done something by myself, for me, and that makes my heart swell. I’m happy, it’s a beautiful period in my life. I’ve got my son who is now bigger, I developed my maternal side and I feel really proud of my professional success at the moment.
What would you highlight about your character, apart from passion?
Spontaneity and how smiley I am. I’m always smiling and I like that. Also, bravery: it’s hard to say, but I am brave. I find change a bit difficult, but once I take that step, there’s no going back.
You’re a true fighter...
Yes, absolutely. Life is a constant battle.