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David Moreno - Can Simoneta. Mexiterranean soul

David Moreno - Can Simoneta. Mexiterranean soul

David Moreno © ffmag

Argentina, Thailand, Japan and Canada are just a few of the countries that Mexican chef David Moreno explored before arriving in Mallorca fourteen years ago. His cooking is inspired by “creativity and experience” and this can clearly be seen in the culinary concept he has created for Can Simoneta. Set in an outstanding location in the north of the island, Moreno takes diners on a fascinating journey across his native Mexico through a series of pre-Hispanic dishes created with Mallorcan produce. Welcome to David Moreno’s “Mexiterranean”. 


Who is David Moreno?
If we’re going to talk about David Moreno, I’d like to talk about what Can Simoneta is. Because David Moreno is just a person, but Can Simoneta is everyone who works with me, the people who make it possible for David Moreno to be someone. I was a kid who, after studying in Mexico and doing my specialism in Barcelona, had the chance to come to the island for a new project that was being launched by a young Mallorcan chef: Andreu Genestra. I had a great four years with him as head chef in his restaurant, until I decided to start my own project. I came from a big city and found myself on an island with masses of products, new flavours... Getting to grips with Mallorcan food was a challenge. I always tell my guys that they have Mexican blood in their veins, and I have Mallorcan blood. I’m deeply in love with the island and I’ve been here for nearly fourteen years. 

I always tell my guys that they have Mexican blood in their veins, and I have Mallorcan blood

How would you define your cooking?
Mexiterranean cooking. It’s the union between Mexico and Mallorca, because I’m Mexican, but I love Mallorcan food. I’ve always evolved, but I think what sets me apart is my background, who I am. This year we’ve separated the restaurants a bit. Before we had everything at Can Simoneta and now we’ve separated the terrace to have an out-and-out gourmet restaurant with just seven tables. Also, this year we’ve given the menu a name: “Origen”. We want to discover the origin, where Mexiterranean cooking comes from. It’ll be a journey through Mexican cuisine but with Mallorcan produce. A menu with fifteen steps in two and half or three hours, depending on the pace. 

Where are you headed?
I don’t want to stand still. I always want to go for more. For example, now that we’ve got a Repsol sun, I always want more. I like to take big strides, slowly but surely, but always basing things on my team because without them, none of it would be possible.

Truffle burrata, green pipian and anchovy. Can Simoneta Mallorca

Truffle burrata, green pipian and anchovy © Can Simoneta

What’s your team like?
We’re a small team but each of us is an essential piece on the board. There’s 14 or 15 of us in the kitchen, depending on the season. And another 15 in the dining room. Each piece fits really well. We operate like a family. You’ve always got your siblings and sometimes you fight, you argue, but we’re really close. We’ve been working together for eight years.

I like to take big strides, slowly but surely, but always basing things on my team because without them, none of it would be possible

What are you like as a leader?
Rather than a leader, I’m the person who helps. Because if they don’t see me working, washing up... They won’t understand what I want to do. They have to see me with my sleeves rolled up. 

How would you define yourself in one word?
“Chingón” [badass], as we say in Mexico. Although actually what best defines me is humility. That’s how I want people to think of me. I’m not egocentric. 

When you talk about your restaurant, you talk about a life-long project...
Yes. In the end, that’s what it is. We’ve been working on this for ten years. And in the end, we like looking back at what we’ve done, and that’s what gives us the push to keep moving forwards. This is a long-term project because we know we want to go for lots more things. 

Sustainability is a fundamental aspect of the Can Simoneta project. How do you work towards it?
One advantage we have at Can Simoneta is that, when we saw how difficult it was to get certain products, we grew them ourselves. Now we’ve got six hectares of corn. Getting corn is pretty tough here and it’s the essential basis of Mexican cooking. We use part of it in the tortillas, and the other part at our farms, because we also have animal farms at Can Simoneta. We plant several tonnes of corn and it’s a cycle: we feed the animals and then we also have produce for the restaurant. It’s about closing the circle, which I think is something chefs ought to do. Now we’ve got three kitchen gardens: one for aromatic herbs and two for produce like chillies, green tomatoes...

Rice with red prawns and peas. Can Simoneta

Rice with red prawn © Can Simoneta

How has Mallorcan cooking changed since you came to the island?
I remember things perfectly when I arrived in 2011 and the evolution has been astonishing. Back then there were two or three people who were the shining examples. But, from that, everything has grown like mad.

Where do you think Mallorcan cuisine is headed?
We’re going to become a great food capital. And I’m including myself in that, because I’m also part of it. We’re on the way to becoming a Madrid or a Barcelona, and Mallorca is going to be world famous for its food. 

Which three aspects of Mallorcan cuisine would you highlight?
In terms of produce, I think the black pig is a benchmark. Vegetable gardens, sustainability, green produce... Because we’re surrounded by green. And I’d also highlight products like the ensaimada, the bread...

How do you think influences from outside the island (like yours) are contributing to Mallorcan cuisine?
It’s about approaching it from a different perspective. Because sometimes you’re so closed off in that circle that it takes someone from outside to say: “why don’t we do it like that?” Sowing the seed that says you can do a lot more things with what you have. 

What products are never missing from your kitchen?
Chillies. Because you’ve got to spice up life a bit. Actually, sometimes people don’t really understand the thing about spiciness. People think that all Mexican food is spicy but, the spiciness is actually an extra. It’s the final touch that always brings you joy. 


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