The world of cooking has evolved over the last few years, and pastry making has not been left behind. We are witnessing a generation of pastry chefs who, far from content with applying the finishing touch to a fantastic meal, have embarked on an arduous journey to modernise and raise awareness of their trade. Some of Ibiza’s finest pastry chefs have spoken to us about their experience, giving us their thoughts on the current status of pastry making on the island. They all seem to be on the same page: namely, that we’re witnessing the great sweet revolution in Ibiza.
Paco Alcahud – Ibiza Gran Hotel and the Casino de Ibiza
“15 years ago, a hotel’s kitchen team would rarely include a pastry chef,” recalls Paco Alcahud (pastry chef at the Ibiza Gran Hotel and the Casino de Ibiza). He found his way into the pastry making industry almost by chance. He was studying mechanics when he started giving his brother a hand in his patisserie and ended up liking the world of pastries more than he might have expected. He has now been running the patisserie at the Ibiza Gran Hotel and the Casino de Ibiza for over a decade: “when I started, there were only two of us working the pastry station. Now, there are six of us,” he states. This increased workforce has allowed his team to craft a range of sophisticated dessert proposals: “we have several restaurants, with different desserts for each one: La Gaia is our most glamorous venue, where we serve the most complex and technically-demanding dishes, with many different options to choose from. In the breakfast buffet, besides baked goods and our range of breads, we also offer 15 different pastries: all of which are homemade,” he explains. “We pay special attention to the finer details and decorations, always using the best raw ingredients, and this shines through in the final product,” he adds.
David Denais – Agroturismo Can Domo
French chef David Denais (pastry chef at Agroturismo Can Domo) has been working as a patissier for 43 years. He first dipped his toes in the trade when he was only 14 years old, helping in his uncle’s patisserie. After studying pastry making, he started getting seasonal jobs, travelling all over the world in search of knowledge and inspiration. At Can Domo, he is carrying out a sweet proposal that goes back to its roots, highlighting the importance of fresh and top-quality ingredients. “One of the things I like most about Can Domo is that, as we only have a few diners at any one time, we are more able to showcase our talents,” he explains. David tells us how, when he first came to Ibiza, he was taken aback by the secondary role of the pastry chef. “In France, pastry making has always been treated with the same respect as cooking. However, this is gradually changing in Ibiza, and we’re all doing our bit to make sure that this evolution becomes a reality,” he assures.
Aixa Guillem – Blue Marlin Ibiza
Aixa Guillem (pastry chef at the Blue Marlin Ibiza) was also introduced to the world of pastry making at a very young age, at just 16 years old. Two decades down the line, she acknowledges that she has witnessed sweeping changes in the sector but admits that a lot of work remains to be done: “during these last few years, luckily, we have evolved quite a lot. However, I feel that pastry making remains somewhat overshadowed by cooking,” she adds. At Blue Marlin, Aixa has created a selection of desserts based on the most traditional pastry line, paying special attention to the finer details. She has also introduced a healthy pastry line: “we have a couple of sugar-free desserts that are made from organic products. In all our products, however, our main concern is ensuring that the ingredients are fresh and of the highest quality,” she states.
Nicolly Trankels – Es Mercat
Brazilian chef Nicolly Trankels heads the pastry station at the Es Mercat restaurant. She left her home country because “it’s not easy to forge a career in pastry making” there, finding in Ibiza the perfect environment for her professional development. She always enjoyed cooking: “my mother was a cook, I studied cooking and I discovered pastry making when I was at university. I knew that I wanted to work as a pastry chef,” she says. Nicolly explains how Es Mercat allows her to squeeze every drop out of her creativity. “Much of our work is based on suggestions, and Jordi (the head chef), Jere and Juan are always willing to try new things. While we have a set menu, with popular classic dishes such as our cheesecake and brownie, I get most enjoyment out of innovating. Personally, I love French pastry making because it’s not very sweet and places a high importance on the raw materials,” she states.
Matías Trelis – Es Ventall
Last year, at just 21 years of age, the pastry chef at the Es Ventall restaurant, Matías Trelis, was recognised as the Balearic Islands’ Best Pastry Chef. He later represented the Balearics in the national competition, which was held in Zaragoza. Despite his tender years, during his time at Es Ventall Matías has developed a sophisticated selection of desserts, including some dishes that comprise over 15 ingredients. “Es Ventall serves traditional Ibizan cuisine with a modern twist, using new ingredients and techniques. We use raw materials that were grown in our kitchen garden,” he explains. Despite being born in Barcelona, Matías has lived in Ibiza since he was a young boy. He recognises the huge steps forward taken by the sector: “Previously, pastry making was overshadowed by cooking, but now desserts are finally being given the importance that they deserve,” he comments.
Andrea Zemi – Ushuaïa
Andrea Zemi (pastry chef at Ushuaïa) began studying cooking in Italy in 2003. He moved to London in 2008, where he would work for two years. Later, in Madrid, he met Ángel Fernández (Bizcochería del Retiro), who would go on to be his mentor. In Ibiza, he was first in charge of the Hard Rock Hotel pastry station for two years before making the move to Ushuaïa four years ago. For the various restaurants within the hotel, Carlos and his team have crafted a broad dessert menu inspired by various international cuisines. “This revolution in pastry making can be partially attributed to the diners themselves, who are increasingly demanding and knowledgeable about cooking,” he explains.
Juliana Ranucci – Sa Punta Restaurant
Argentinian chef Juliana Ranucci (pastry chef at the Sa Punta restaurant, currently on maternity leave) began her career when she was 17 years old. She has spent time in some of the finest kitchens in Argentina, Uruguay, United Kingdom and Spain, training and working in several Michelin star restaurants. Ranucci tells us that, at Sa Punta, both the owner and the chef are always willing to innovate. “We endeavour to find the perfect dessert for every situation”, she explains. During her time at Sa Punta, she has designed a range of desserts inspired by classic French pastry making, with modern and international influences and a clear commitment to using high-quality ingredients. Ranucci recognises the evolution that her sector has undergone in the last few years in Spain, but laments how the progress has not been as quick as in other countries. “Pastry making still lacks support in some places, with desserts being considered less important than other dishes. I think that, if the dessert isn’t good, you leave the restaurant with a bad taste in your mouth”.