We are in conversation with the chef, Linda Di Somma, who was born in Bari, in the region of Puglia, southern Italy.
Linda gained a degree in Catering in Bari, and another in Food Science and Restaurant Management at the University of Bologna. She is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics in the faculty of Medicine and Surgery in Ancona, in the central Italian region of Marche.
Having grown up in a culture steeped in gastronomy, Linda has a passion for everything related to food and cooking. She decided to become a different kind of chef, unique in bringing together training, professionalism and health in her kitchen.
When she arrived in Ibiza, she decided to pick up a tray and become part of a restaurant team, so that she could listen to, and learn from, the customers. She was soon ready to take a giant step forward, opening her own restaurant, “Trattoria Mama Fló”. Here, she could apply the experience she had gained as a waitress in Ibiza, the knowledge she had absorbed as a child in Bari, and everything she had learnt at University—and make fresh pasta. Later on, she completed another stage in the journey towards her dream, when she worked for a time in France, at the prestigious 2-Michelin-starred restaurant “Montgomerie” run by the chef Gatien Demczyna. There, she was able to prove to herself that she was ready to bring even more to Ibiza: excitement, professionalism and health through her cooking.
Linda di Somma, the chef who looks after both body and soul…
Yes! I want to offer something unique and different, something more: that is my main aim as a Chef—to convey emotion and excitement. I want to take the guests on a gastronomic tour of the world, and to share every experience with them from start to finish. Selecting the ingredients, creating a varied diet with healthy, fresh, seasonal products and, most importantly, tailoring them to suit the ultimate aim of every guest.
What started your passion for cooking?
As a child, at home, I learnt everything from my grandmother, being with her in the kitchen, harvesting the olives and helping with the whole process of making olive oil, from harvesting the olives until the liquid oil was brought to the table. I have always cooked, from the age of five up until now. All my life, I’ve had a passion for cooking.
Tell us why you enrolled on the Food Science and Restaurant Management course.
Apart from my desire to get to know the ingredients and learn how to cook them, I’ve always had an interest in related areas such as healthy eating. I studied cooking for 5 years, and when I finished that and began working in professional kitchens, I felt that I wanted to know more, and to learn more. That is why I decided to continue training and to study Food Science and Restaurant Management at the University of Bologna. For me, food is an expansive subject; it’s about so much more than just being in the kitchen.
How and why did you choose Ibiza? Tell us how you came to work as a private chef.
When I finished my studies, I began work as a sous chef, but I still wanted to learn more. I felt the need to learn other languages, and so I decided to take the plunge and come to Ibiza for that first stage. As I had already worked as a waitress, I knew how to work and to get on with customers, so I started serving at tables. Soon, my then partner and I decided to open our own restaurant, Trattoria Mama Flo, serving traditional Italian cuisine, so that I could bring to Ibiza what I had seen in Bari in the village squares—showing the public how to make fresh pasta, showing something more than just the final result on a plate, because people love authentic experiences. The restaurant was very successful, as ours was the only one on the Island where fresh pasta was made in full view of the guests.
However, my curiosity and my desire to know more about the world of cooking got the better of me, and after a few years, I decided I was ready for a change. I decided to go on learning, showing people what I am feeling and expressing it through my cooking. So I began working at home, trying things out and experimenting, creating dishes and writing recipes, showing people what I had to offer and growing professionally—but this time as a private chef.
I’ll be a chef with something new to offer—food to stimulate the body and the soul
What about your spell at the 2-Michelin-starred Montgomerie with the renowned chef Gatien Demczyna?
Following my experience as a private chef, I wanted to go a step further and fulfil one of my dreams—to work at a high-class restaurant in France.
Which is where the Restaurant Le Montgomerie comes in. It was what I needed, to fulfil my dream of working in Michelin-starred restaurants in France, and to take a major step to being a full professional. I feel that this shows both in my way of working and in the dishes I produce; this was another phase in my apprenticeship, the one that turned me into a full professional.
At first, I wanted to work in all the kitchen brigade stations, but I began as a pizza chef. Then I moved on to salads and entrées, then fish and meat, and finally sauces, garnishes and plating. It was a real baptism of fire for me.
It was very hard, extremely demanding and, of course, it was all in French…
Tell us what it was like to work with Gatien Demczyna and his team.
The experience of working with him and his team was really tough. I wanted to learn the work involved in all the brigade positions in a kitchen of that calibre, and I had to work really hard, slowly and patiently. I needed to demonstrate that I could work in any area of the most demanding sort of kitchen, within a team of great professionals—and in French, a language I could not speak at that time.
What working with him taught me most was about myself, how to strive for, and finally achieve, my goal, and although I experienced moments of doubt, I did it. I made it.
My aim is to be more than a chef: to understand the world of food and to communicate its meaning
You said that you were about to start a new course in Nutrition and Dietetics; tell us why.
I’ve just enrolled today! It’s a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics in the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, in Ancona. I want to capitalise on my studies, my experience and my lifestyle. At the moment, I’m very interested in healthy cooking; I want to offer something different, something that encompasses the entire process in the sphere of cooking. I want to be more than just a private chef: my aim is to be a consultant, someone to accompany you and help you meet the challenge.