After conquering the food scene in Catalonia and Andorra, chef Nandu Jubany (a Michelin star and three Repsol suns at his eponymous restaurant) arrived in Formentera. That was seven years ago. Today, he has more than 100 employees working at his restaurants around the island. And the Catalan chef is so passionate about the smallest Pityusic Island that he’s just announced a new project for the upcoming season in Formentera. There’s no stopping Nandu Jubany.
How many projects do you have on the go right now?
Quite a few at the moment (laughs). The latest news I can share is that, unfortunately, this year we’re closing Pecador. We’ve bought Can Dani in Formentera and are going to open a place that specialises in barbecuing, where we’ll cook meat, fish, vegetables from our kitchen garden... It’ll be a concept between Can Jubany and Pur but in Formentera. We’re planning to open it next year. We have to learn from each moment. I have a restaurant type and I want to be there; I want to be everywhere. If I can’t control it, I’m not happy. Life isn’t about taking the ferry, being split between Formentera, Ibiza, Barcelona, Vic, Andorra, weddings... And that’s the decision we made. It wasn’t easy because we were really happy in Santa Eulalia, but next year we’ll have five restaurants in Formentera and I think it’ll be more under control.
What’s your secret for being in so many different places at the same time?
I don’t have a secret. I get up very early and go to bed very late. I don’t stop. But that’s why we’re moving on from Pecador. Because I can’t be everywhere. I’m lucky to have an incredible team by my side. My most important asset is my team: the people around me, in communications, all my head chefs, my wife, child... I’m just the visible face and while it’s true that I control everything, they're the ones who make it all a success.
What do all your restaurants have in common with one other?
At all of them our aim is to ensure that customers come here and find what they were expecting. I always have great respect for the customer. What matters most to me is that every customer leaves the restaurant with their expectations met. At all my restaurants we work to make the customer the star and to see them leave happy.
At all my restaurants we work to make the customer the star and to see them leave happy
How has your life changed since you came to Formentera?
I arrived in Formentera seven years ago. In the beginning, with Can Carlitos, I came every fortnight because I had one restaurant... But two years ago, we opened Es Còdol Foradat, last year Aigua Aire... Now we have more than 100 people working on the island. In the end, this has become a big project and I have to be here. I’m really lucky to have been able to make a place for myself on the island. I’ve found a little house, I’m feeling great, and I’m really happy in Formentera.
I’m really lucky to have been able to make a place for myself on the island. I’ve found a little house, I’m feeling great, and I’m really happy in Formentera
Do you have a ‘favourite child’ among your restaurants in Formentera?
It’s well worth visiting them all. They're all my babies. We’ve consolidated a really good team at Es Còdol Foradat. At Can Carlitos this year we’re going to change things around and it’s going to be a bit like Pecador, more outrageous... I like Aire a lot: it’s a Japanese grill house and we do fantastic brochettes there. It’s totally unrelated to my cooking and I like it for that reason, because it’s different. Breakfast at Aigua is also a blast. I like them all.
What has your reception in Formentera been like?
To be honest, I feel great on the island. Formentera is ultimately a big village. Like me, I’m a big village. Ibiza was too big for me though. But I love Formentera, because I’m from a village. Only a few people stay on the island in winter and I feel really at home. I think that, even though I’m an outsider, I’ve been warmly welcomed and I feel really comfortable. I try to respect people from the island, and the island itself, so I don’t lose my focus... Between all of us, we have to try to make sure that Formentera doesn’t lose its magic, and that’s something I keep a close eye on.
Between all of us, we have to try to make sure that Formentera doesn’t lose its magic
What are the challenges of having restaurants on an island like Formentera?
The biggest problem I face is produce. You have to adapt to the produce and not the other way round. In Barcelona, we’re used to ordering something and by 7 am the following morning you’ve got it in your cold storage. That’s really difficult in Formentera. But, in the end, you adapt and create menus in your restaurants that don’t drive you crazy, with things you can find on the island. You have to adapt to the island and not the island to you.
What do you think about the food revolution that has been happening in Ibiza and Formentera in recent years?
Formentera is a destination where people come to eat well. Lots of people come and want to eat in the same places as always, which is great. But sometimes a family or group of friends comes for a week or ten days and they want variety. It’s really great that in Formentera we aren’t all doing the same thing now. There’s been a big change in Formentera in recent years. Especially in the sense that there are more restaurants, customers can choose, and that ultimately enriches the island.