Gastronomy runs in his blood, and Ibizan cuisine has guided him on his journey through many different countries and cities around the world. But Miguel Tur is in his element when cooking a bullit de peix, using avant-garde culinary techniques or recreating popular Indian flavours and recipes. Chameleon and restless, having managed—and owned—several restaurants, Tur is now consultant for the Sol Bay and Sol Post hotel group, where—among other things—he has designed the gastronomic offer of iconic restaurants such as The Curry Club.
How would you define your cuisine?
My cuisine has changed a lot since I started; I would call that being adaptive. I believe that a chef who stagnates and only produces one type of culinary offer loses the opportunity to learn from others. I can work with traditional cuisine, Asian, contemporary… In fact, the first restaurant I opened, Ample 32, was one of the first to offer that ‘different’ type of cuisine. I have never been afraid of anything. The chef is a living being with emotions. That’s why our cuisine has to be alive.
The chef is a living being with emotions. That’s why our cuisine has to be alive
And you even dare to venture into Indian cuisine…
When I started out, I was told that one of the restaurants I was going to work at was a curry house, so I went to Barcelona to learn under Anjalina Chugani, who is one of the best Indian chefs. She helped me understand this cuisine, and I then went on to change the whole system and I was never afraid of doing so. You always have to look ahead. People told me I was crazy because, after owning two restaurants, I went to work for a hotel chain, and set up an Indian restaurant. And I think this has been very beneficial for me. It was a twist in the tale, and I was delighted because it meant I could carry on learning.
You have also been an ‘ambassador’ of traditional Ibizan cuisine in Oman…
I worked for a luxury resort there. And what was going to be a restaurant for a beach club turned out to be a golf club, with Ibizan and Mediterranean cuisine. It was a unique and incredible experience. In fact, learning from that culture gave me a whole new range of perspectives. Watching Pakistanis, Omanis and Filipinos cooking bullits and paellas was a lot of fun. But it was not easy, especially having quality produce delivered. We would buy in Valencia and bring it over in trucks.
What do you think is the most important thing a chef should know?
Respect. Respect for other types of cuisine, respect for the product, the location… respect for the people you work with. I also think that not being afraid to look at what other people are doing is important. A chef who thinks they know everything, is wrong. I learn something new every day. I learn by going to La Gaia for dinner, I learn by dining at Es Ventall or Es Gerret, because each chef gives a different perspective to food, and we shouldn’t be afraid of acknowledging a job well-done by others. If you dine at a restaurant and you see something that you like, you add it to your menu, and that’s a good thing that I think everyone should do.
We need to be humbler and understand that we can help each-other and learn from each-other
Is the sector calling for more modesty?
Absolutely, it seems that these days a chef is a type of star who has to continuously market what they have created or what is theirs. But if a chef produces something I like, why can’t I add that to my menu? Whether I modify it or keep it the same. I have never been afraid to say “I went to this restaurant and I learned this from there.” I have close friends who are chefs and I learn from them every day. The chef’s ego is bad for the chef. We need to be humbler and understand that we should help each-other and learn from each-other. What should scare us is stagnating or locking ourselves into our own cuisine.
What is your opinion of the Ibizan culinary scenario? What do you think could be improved?
I think that Ibizan cuisine context is healthy, but there are too many risks. For example, 200 euros for a paella is excessive. You have to be realistic; the diner is no fool. I advocate quality cuisine, but at an affordable price. Ibiza has become very elitist. Are there really that many wealthy people in Ibiza to justify so many luxury restaurants? I think the only problem that Ibiza faces is death from success.
Who are your greatest gastronomic influences from inside and outside the island?
I have many… in Ibizan cuisine there are places such as S’Espartar, Sa Punta, Cala Carbó… which have a nice balance, you pay a fair price for good food. But my biggest influence is my father, Miguel Tur, who taught me everything I know in Ibizan cuisine. Also, Juan Roselló, who encouraged me to walk away from contemporary cuisine and return to my roots, to traditional Ibizan cuisine. Because there was a time in Ibiza when traditional cuisine was not valued, but fortunately this has changed. Another key person has been Vicente Juan (senior), an entrepreneur who has been part of the island’s complete evolution, from the start. And other chefs, such as José Miguel Bonet (from Es Ventall) and many others. And from outside the island, there was a particular restaurant that influenced my career: Hisop, in Barcelona. Its chef, Oriol Ivern, treated his food with an exceptional care and that transformed my way of understanding the profession.
There was a time in Ibiza when traditional cuisine was not valued, but fortunately this has changed
As a diner, what is your favourite type of cuisine?
It depends on the day. Last summer I went to La Gaia three times and enjoyed it very much. This is also true of my visits to Es Ventall, Es Gerret, Can Deu, S’Espartar… and each of them is different. It all depends on how you feel, or who you are with, but, regardless, what I enjoy most is going to a fish market with my family or friends, making a rice, pan-frying a squid, or toasting a slice of torrada and eating by the sea, in the San Antonio bay.