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Andreu Genestra. Totally Mediterranean flavour

Andreu Genestra. Totally Mediterranean flavour

Andreu Genestra © ffmag

Bringing the food of his land to new frontiers: that’s the motto of Andreu Genestra (Inca, 1983), the owner of an eponymous restaurant – with a Michelin star and two Repsol suns – and Aromata. An inveterate traveller, he’s explored countless countries in search of inspiration and new experiences he can use to enrich his food, trips that add a fresh flavour to each of his creations. This year, Genestra is also managing the food at the soon-to-open Lío Mallorca where “you’ll notice his contribution in each dish”.


What’s Andreu Genestra like inside and outside the kitchen?
I try to be the same in the kitchen as I am at home. I can be a bit intense. I like being approachable and enjoy making food for the team the same way I’d make it for a customer. I always think: would I make this dish for my mother? Because, if the answer is no, what’s the point?

Where does your passion for cooking come from?
I was already planning to be a chef when I was 12 or 13. It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me: knowing what I wanted to do from when I was young. I stood up to my father because I wanted to be a chef. And, when I was 15, I was given the chance to work in a hotel kitchen. My father thought that would help get the idea out of my head but all that happened is that I wanted to do it even more. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work for great houses, great restaurants that motivated me to keep on going in the profession. Because I think that whether you decide to carry on with it or not depends a great deal on who you’ve had the luck to cook with. 

I’ve also been fortunate enough to work for great houses, great restaurants that motivated me to keep on going


What experiences have shaped your career as a chef?
Travelling for work. I love travelling to places where I’ve been invited to cook, or to collaborate with hotels. I love discovering countries from inside a kitchen. It means getting to know the country through the local people. I take my traditional cooking to these countries and then, when I come home, I like to cook local produce using all the techniques that I’ve learned. I love cooking local produce from a different perspective, making things evolve.

Scampi with lentil stew and passion fruit. Andreu Genestra

Scampi © Andreu Genestra

This year you have a lot of changes happening, plus new projects. How do you feel about your restaurant being transferred to hotel Zoëtry Mallorca?
I started ten years ago out of necessity. Because, when I came to Mallorca, after having left El Bulli, Mugaritz, after working in France and all that, no one would give me a job. It was the 2008-2009 economic crisis and I said to myself: “I've got to start something of my own and work at what I like, which is serving something different.” And, ten years later, I felt the need to give our cooking a fresh perspective. Hotel Predi Son Jaumell had given us everything, but we’d grown too big for it. So, for lots of reasons, I had to move the restaurant. It was a tough and exciting time because it was frustrating having to leave my ‘birthplace’, in culinary terms. But lots more things have come now, such starting at Lío, building up Aromata. We’re going to give the whole group a shakeup. 

What changes will we see at restaurant Andreu Genestra?
Being at hotel Zoetry means I’ll have a much bigger space. So, using our concept of Mediterranean cooking, we can offer a much broader experience. And, based on that, the customer will have a better experience across the group restaurants. Aromata is much closer, Lío too... At the end of the day, what we’re doing is continuing with our work. We’re not going to change anything. We want to improve it.

As well as the Michelin star, restaurant Andreu Genestra also has a Green Star. Which areas of the restaurant are sustainable?
When we created the restaurant, my background was in very precise, technical cooking, which you couldn’t find in Mallorca. I wanted to establish myself by doing a different type of ‘cooking from the land’. Because if I use tuna from Mallorca, I can make a cuina de la terra, even if it isn’t traditional cooking. And if all the produce is from here, I can still call it Mallorcan cuisine. And that’s when we created the concept, which we still use, of calling it “Mediterranean” cooking instead of “cooking from the land”.  Because we’re all connected across the whole Mediterranean through techniques, flavours... And I decided to use these Mediterranean synergies.

Grilled monkfish. Andreu Genestra

Grilled monkfish © Andreu Genestra

And at the restaurant you make your own oil, wine, vermouth, gin...
Yes. Everything started with the wine. We decided to plant vines so that the house wine was the finest we could offer. Because, when you’ve made it with your own hands, it’s priceless. The olive oil was next. And we started to make vermouth with the surplus that we didn’t use for wine. The common thread in our food is spices, from the moment you start (with a vermouth) until you finish with a botanical spirit like gin.

You mentioned your father took a while to accept that you wanted to be a chef. And now he’s in charge of the kitchen garden. What’s it like working together
Working with your family is tricky. But no one will try harder to make things work than your family. Because, basically, my whole family, from my children to my wife, works on this. Some do because they have to put up with me, like my youngest son, who is six and watches the cooking process and is already taking it all in. It’s all sustainable because it’s a way of life. It’s the circular economy. And I don’t just mean my family, I also mean small producers who help me. 

Working with your family is tricky. But no one will try harder to make things work than your family

This year you're starting as executive chef at Lío Mallorca. What does Lío mean to you and how are you involved?
Lío is at the point of establishing itself and expanding the brand. Lío is a show. It’s not cooking. And in the show, there’s a performance, food, music, and all from the vantage point of the Mediterranean. For me, Lío is an asset that transports the Mediterranean to each different place where it opens.

Porc negre cheeks. Andreu Genestra

Porc negre cheeks © Andreu Genestra

How do you feel about working on such a different project? Is it a big challenge?
We’ve had our own catering company for years. So, we’ve had to pair haute cuisine with very unusual events, in places that don’t always have the suitable logistics in place for serving food... So, when I’m given the opportunity to reach a wider public, bringing local produce, transferring flavours...even though there will be a lot of diners and the logistics will be tough... Obviously, it won’t be the restaurant service you get at the original restaurant Andreu Genestra, but our small contribution will be in every recipe. It’s a way of reaching the customer and saying: “This is the Balearics. Enjoy it.” For me, that’s the big challenge.

Lío Mallorca is a way of reaching the customer and saying, this is the Balearics. Enjoy it. For me, that’s the big challenge


What particular characteristics set Lío Mallorca apart from Lío Ibiza?
Basically, the space. It’s in one of the island’s most iconic nightclubs. But I think each Lío will have its own character, particularly in terms of the food. What will unite them all is the clientele. Because customers will travel and see that the show and experience are equally impressive but that different flavours define each place.

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