Martín Berasategui prepares the season with renewed energy at Etxeko Ibiza after receiving a Sun award from the Repsol Guide
Bless Hotel Ibiza opened its doors in 2019 after a complete refurbishment that made it one of the most luxurious and exclusive hotels on the island. That major commitment could not ignore the gastronomic part, so Bless Hotel reached an agreement with Martín Berasategui to put his stamp on the restaurant. Thus, Etxeko Ibiza was born, an intimate venture by the brilliant Basque chef that meant a return to his roots, to the flavours and aromas of Berasategui's childhood and youth in Lasarte, and to his traditional dishes. After all, Etxeko means ‘from home’ in Basque.
Leaving behind the pandemic and the related health restrictions, the Etxeko and Bless teams are gearing up for what is going to be the longest season in their history (the hotel opened on 13 April) with great optimism and renewed energy, especially after receiving a Sun award from the Repsol Guide on 28 February, in addition to being recommended in the Michelin Guide, which has become a real incentive to continue working in the search for excellence that goes hand in hand with the Berasategui brand.
Renewed menu and greater prominence of the dining room service
The fact that Etxeko only opens its doors six months of the year does not mean that the team stops working. In fact, once the season is over, the team travels every year to the headquarters in Lasarte where it continues to work on creating new menus and dishes and, above all, carry out an in-depth analysis of what has and has not been successful with the aim of improving.
This year, Etxeko Ibiza's food offering, simmered in a slow cooker during winter in Lasarte, is full of novelties. Firstly, the length of the two menus has been changed. In one case, the menu is longer; and in the case of the short one, the menu is noticeably shorter.
New dishes have also been included in the à la carte service, where the magnificent local produce has become more prominent. In addition, this year the restaurant wants greater participation by the diners, so it has designed several dishes that will be assembled or presented in front of the diners by the dining room staff.
An example of this is one of the new dishes, black Ibiza pig's trotters with caramelised onion stuffing, which is served in the dining room with a Périgueux sauce and topped off with truffle grating.
Paco Budia and Héctor Suárez, Martín Berasategui's right-hand men in Ibiza
Chef Paco Budia and head waiter Héctor Suárez are the two people chosen by Martín Berasategui to steer the ship in Ibiza. The former from Cordoba and the latter from Gran Canaria have two things in common: their youth and their involvement in this project.
We imagine that running the Berasategui brand with all that it entails may imply such a heavy responsibility that this could be a burden. However, both acknowledge that working with the Basque chef is a unique experience which, regardless of the responsibility it entails, is easy because, as Budia points out, ‘we are all a team in which we support each other and Martín gives a lot of weight to the team’. Héctor says something similar when talking about the training period he spent in Lasarte before the opening of Etxeko, which brought back magnificent memories since ‘they immediately opened their arms and made me feel like one of them’.
The two of them manage a staff of twenty people who serve an average of fifty diners every day, which they would not be able to do without the continuous support of the team at the headquarters in San Sebastián, with whom they are in constant communication.
However, both agree that Etxeko Ibiza is not a ‘copy and paste’ of Lasarte. In fact, the intrinsic characteristics of the island and the profile of the diners, who are on holiday, would make this unfeasible. Nevertheless, although Berasategui's mark is indelible, Etxeko Ibiza has been acquiring its own personality over the last few years, both in the type of food, which is increasingly focused on Ibizan produce, and in the dining room service, which could be described as elegantly informal. Etxeko Ibiza is clearly one of the island's strongest candidates for the coveted Michelin Star in the next edition of the famous French food guide.