Between Nandu Jubany and Formentera it was love at first sight, and Jubany has been shouting it from the rooftops ever since. This unstoppable chef and entrepreneur opened one of the most successful restaurants of Ibiza’s night scene -Pecador- at the height of a pandemic, and breathed new life into Es Codòl Foradat, one of Formentor’s most legendary kitchens. Now the Catalan chef is continuing his conquest of the Pitiusas Islands by reinvesting in Can Carlitos, his first restaurant in Formentera, as well as opening two new establishments: Aigua and Aire. He assures us that he is happier than ever in Formentera, and that is why he never ceases to look for excuses (in the form of new projects) to continue visiting the island of his dreams.
You’re an adopted native of Formentera. Are you more in love with the island than ever?
I always say I’m in love with Formentera. The island captured my heart, and I’m very comfortable here. It gets better and better... I have many friends here now. So what do I need to do? Look for work so that I can come here more often. And as if there wasn’t enough to do already, we’re now opening two new establishments: Aigua and Aire.
Tell us about Aigua...
Aigua is a different kind of restaurant; I want it to be a place where people can get together. It’s in the port, so it’s perfect as a gathering point for people coming off the ferries. And inside the restaurant, we’ve put a take-away counter, just like at Jubany al Aire. Instead of Jubany at home, here we have Jubany on the sea, which means that you can take what you want from my restaurant to your boat. It’s a take-away serving some of our legendary dishes, those we can’t take off the menu: mussel curry, rice dishes, chicken a l’ast picantito, aubergines, carpaccios, croquettes, fritters, desserts... We also have Formentera bread, good pastries, sandwiches, detox juices, healthy breakfasts, and very good not-so-healthy breakfasts... And also gourmet items: caviar, tinned goods, cold meats, cheeses, wines, champagnes... It’s going to be a very comprehensive offer.
And what’s the news on Aire?
Aire is up on the terrace, where there’s always a breeze blowing. I’m a very practical person, and when the time came to name the restaurant, I was very clear about what I wanted. There we’re going to have a Japanese robata. Most of the main dishes will be chargilled. We’re going to have brioches, tartares, raw dishes, ceviches, oysters... It’s going to be a younger type of restaurant. With live music, to create a special atmosphere at sunset... It will be a very different kind of place, because what motivates me is doing things differently — I don’t want to create another Can Carlitos. I want each restaurant to have its own personality. I’m lucky enough to have a very loyal customer base, people who come to Formentera and will be happy to come to all five of my restaurants. They’ll call into Pecador (Ibiza); then they’ll have breakfast at Aigua; they’ll have dinner one evening listening to music at Aire; they’ll go to Can Carlitos to watch the sunset; they’ll eat lobster at Es Còdol.
What motivates me is doing things differently. I want each restaurant to have its own personality
You always try to work with ingredients from Formentera. Do you find that easy?
Here, using local ingredients can be very complicated, because there is what there is. We stock up with what we can, and we have a couple of trusted local farmers who supply us. But it’s not easy; nor is it easy to open new restaurants every year, set up new teams, etc. And it’s harder for those of us who are not from here. I think it will get easier with time. Because what we want to do is to help local suppliers, and showcase their products.
You’ve been at Es Còdol a year now. What do you think of it?
I was obsessed with the idea that I didn’t want to lose the character of a Mijorn beach bar, as a place where you would know for certain that you were in Formentera — because sometimes we strip away the local identity of places. We’ve been refining the details so that on each visit our customers feel more at home, but without losing that character. At Es Còdol I’m happy with the team I have. We’ve put together a really good kitchen... I believe we offer the best lobster, and we have some wonderful dishes. Fran is a great chef. Clara and Sergi make you feel completely at home; we’ve created a unique restaurant.
How do you manage to maintain the standard of Can Carlitos year after year, and continue climbing up the rankings?
We’re planning to improve it, because last year was like a hurricane, and we tiptoed around it. But this year we’re investing again. I think businesses need to reinvest, and it should be visible. People should see that places have been updated and improved. Also, this year at Can Carlitos we’re going to focus on the service.
In Santa Eulalia, people weren’t very interested in gastronomy, but that is changing... Do you believe that, with your arrival, people are starting to talk about gastronomy?
I don’t think I bear all the blame. I believe there are big brands moving into Santa Eulalia. Their interest is in shifting away from the town of Vila’s identity. It’s a way of seeking out a different public, a different area... It’s also thanks to the Town Hall, which supports the projects, because they believe in a different Santa Eulalia. I’m quite comfortable, and I have customers whose homes are in other parts of the island, and they tell me that they’d never been to Santa Eulalia for dinner. I think that’s really good...
What are we going to find this year at Pecador?
We’ve changed things a little at Pecador. We almost have completely the same team as last year. This year we’re going to consolidate the offer. Pecador is a fun venture; I love the whole idea, and it’s very different from what I normally do. And it has a few features in common with my other restaurants, which is something I always like to see.
What are your hopes for the next year?
I hope people leave my restaurant happy. I hope they get what they hope for when they come to our restaurants. I hope the team is highly motivated, that we have a good time, and that there will be a good atmosphere. It’s very important to me that we consolidate the team here, because without the energy and support of my team, we couldn’t do what we do.
Without the energy and support of my team, we couldn’t do what we do.
In your view, how healthy is the state of gastronomy in Formentera?
The gastronomic offer on the islands is getting better every year, and that means that everyone needs to make an effort, and that anyone who was putting in a mediocre performance now has to do much better. There are lots of good people here: people like Carlos Abellán, Pacha, Sol, Cala Saona, Es Caló... That’s good for me, good for the island, good for the supplier... and for anyone who wants to do things well.
Do you have a dream?
To begin to calm down a bit. But I’ve been saying that for many years, and every year I’m busier than ever... I’m always very demanding of myself, but when I see a project I like, I dive into it. I’m not driven by a desire to make more money, just to do different things. At the end of the day, I’m an entrepreneur.