Víctor Rodríguez comes from Madrid. He is the new executive chef of the group Ibiza My Love, which manages—among other establishments—the restaurant Finca La Plaza, located in Santa Gertrudis. He is friendly, responsible, never minces his words and his main concern as a chef is to ensure maximum respect for the product. A big fan of the belief that ‘less is more’, Víctor Rodríguez and his team work hard to make sure Finca la Plaza’s Mediterranean cuisine is honest, as authenticity plays a crucial role.
You used to play culinary games as a child?
Yes, it was always something fun. I have enjoyed cooking since I was a child. It’s a tough job, but if you really love it, like me, it’s not that hard. It’s hard for people who don’t have a passion for it.
Who have been your main culinary references?
I have had two: Martín Berasategui and Juan María Arzak.
How would you define customers’ experience when they dine at the restaurant?
I have always thought that each diner experiences our cuisine in their own way. Some place value on the gastronomy, others on the context… there is always a variety of opinions; but the most important thing for me is that the customer is satisfied with the product. We sell quality food.
The most important thing for me is that the customer is satisfied with the product
Tell me about Finca La Plaza’s culinary offering, what is it like?
It is market cuisine with a heavy focus on the product. A simple cuisine, without much product transformation. We cook everything from scratch, with the exception of bread and ice-cream. We offer market cuisine and signature cuisine that is, above all, authentic.
We offer market cuisine and signature cuisine that is, above all, authentic
What is your opinion of the culinary trend towards a return to origins?
I think that gastronomy is evolving. We used to try to produce a fictitious, unreal transformation. Chefs would focus on decorating the plate. The culinary greats, such as the Basque and French chefs, have always respected and been true to the product. I think that gastronomy has recently evolved poorly, the product has been treated really badly, to the point the diner didn’t even know what they were eating. We are taking a step back from that.
Is difficult to find honest cuisine in Ibiza?
I don’t think the prices correspond to the quality that is offered in many restaurants on the island.
I think that gastronomy has recently evolved poorly, the product has been treated really badly, to the point the diner didn’t even know what they were eating
In your opinion, what makes a good restaurant?
It has to be cosy; but it absolutely has to be somewhere that offers value for money, it can’t try to “take diners for a ride”. It should offer good service. And it must have soul… After all, it’s the whole that makes the experience. There are many restaurants in Ibiza that have put a lot of effort into their decoration but that still lack soul. They don’t communicate anything.
How has Ibiza’s gastronomy developed in recent years, and how has its hospitality sector evolved?
I think cuisine on the island has got worse. Instead of focusing on quality and long-term goals, the Ibiza brand is being exploited ad nauseam. But that can only last so long.
What really motivates you as a chef?
Like all artisans, seeing that my product makes another person happy motivates me. That is the greatest reward. Chefs work with a product that changes, like the carpenter who works with wood and uses a variety of trees. We work with different raw materials and the result, even when we follow the same recipes, is never the same. Meals that are always the same are the industrialised ones.
Like all artisans, seeing that my product makes another person happy motivates me. That is the greatest reward
What culinary creation do you feel most satisfied with?
Gastronomically, all the dishes we offer at Finca La Plaza are very simple, the real difficulty lies in knowing how to use the product. We try to keep the product intact as much as possible, so to speak. That is what the chef’s job really is. If you use quality products and treat them accordingly, the dish will be delicious. The problem is that the workforce in Ibiza is not usually very professional. I am lucky to work with a very professional team that has adapted to Finca la Plaza.
What is a successful restaurant for you?
I think a restaurant is successful when ‘word of mouth’ works. Regardless of how much advertising is done, if the customers are satisfied, that is the true success of a restaurant. There has been a lot of posturing in Ibiza in this sense. We are not rock stars, we are chefs. With Master Chef and so much television, chefs seem to be more important than the president. For me, success is not appearing in magazines; many of us forget what is really important: our mission is to provide a service and make other people happy.
We are not rock stars, we are chefs
What do you think of the evolution of the figure of chef with regard to the waiter?
I think this has occurred because the kitchen has professionalised more than the front-of-house has, and that is another handicap we need to address as restaurants. I think there are fewer well-trained professionals in the front-of-house, just as was the case in the kitchen 20 years ago.
What are your fetish ingredients?
Olive oil and salt. Two basic ingredients that are used in all dishes.
What would you have cooked in the time this interview lasted?
Fried eggs with potatoes. That simple. There is a restaurant in Madrid that became famous for making fried eggs with potatoes and other simple dishes (Casa Lucio). It is a restaurant that has been cooking the same kind of cuisine for more than 40 years and it is very successful. Its base is quality products and pampering that product.
Which are your favourite restaurants in Ibiza?
I really like Es Ventall and Can Berri Vell. And, although I’m probably not meant to say it, Finca la Plaza, because the food is delicious.