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Samuel Galdón - Son Bunyola.Back to the beginning

Samuel Galdón - Son Bunyola.Back to the beginning

Samuel Galdón © ffmag

After a decade in Ibiza, Extremadura-born chef Samuel G. Galdón is beginning a new adventure that will take him back to the beginning of his career in the kitchen. Mallorca is extremely special to him and the place where he’ll be starting this new stage as a chef, working with hotel group Virgin Limited Edition. The iconic chain belonging to Sir Richard Branson is opening Son Bunyola Hotel & Villas: a rural hotel with just 26 rooms and two restaurants that promises to be, in its founders’ words, “the most luxurious hotel in the Mediterranean”.


What’s it like coming back to Mallorca?
After ten years in Ibiza, it was time for a change and coming back to an island like Mallorca, especially the Serra de Tramuntana, wasn’t something I had to think too hard about. An opportunity came up at the Son Bunyola Hotel and I found out in the press that Sir Richard had bought the estate back.  When I saw the project, I was fascinated, and I went after it until I got it.  What do you do if the Virgin Limited Edition chain calls you up and asks you to be Executive Chef at one of its hotels and to manage the pre-opening? You don’t think twice... And I didn’t hesitate because I’m all about the brands and I love the Virgin brand as much as I loved the Pacha brand in Ibiza. So, I decided to accept the challenge.

Suite Hotel Son Bunyola

Suite © Hotel Son Bunyola

What will we find at Son Bunyola?
Son Bunyola is a small boutique hotel in the countryside with just 26 rooms. It’s on a 250-hectare estate which is enormous, right in the Serra de Tramuntana, with four kilometres of coastline. It’s a 16th century building surrounded by a valley. The house (which has been refurbished with much love and great attention to detail) is an old farmhouse where they used to make wine from malvasia grapes, and olive oil. Sir Richard Branson decided to buy the estate and create a hotel that would be one of his small retreats. Because, along with Son Bunyola, he has seven more retreats around the world. In the Virgin Islands, Morocco, Switzerland... He sees Mallorca as his last stronghold. It’s a small boutique hotel that I like to describe as “a sweet”.

Son Bunyola is a small boutique hotel that I like to describe as “a sweet”

Mallorca has held a special place in my heart for a very long time, ever since I visited it for the first time with my family when I was a child. It inspired me to create a stunning property in Deia many years ago, and we turned it into a wonderful small hotel for families. Over time I began to search for a new place to call home in Mallorca and was lucky enough to discover something even more special: Son Bunyola.

Sir Richard Branson


Hotel Son Bunyola. Mallorca

Views © Hotel Son Bunyola

What are the dining options at Son Bunyola?
Son Bunyola has a restaurant that’s open all day called Sa Terrassa. Here, in the mornings, the menu is about produce and barbecuing, and in the evenings, it becomes a gourmet restaurant. In the morning, the menu is really fresh, with barbecued vegetables, fish, meat... We also have a huge kitchen garden where we’re going to do biodynamic farming that we’ll use to supply the restaurant all year round. And, in the evening, Sa Terrassa turns into our gourmet restaurant, where we’ll have a tasting menu with produce-focused cooking as seen through a filter of modernity and excellence, which will showcase the ecological produce that’s grown on the estate. Technique, flavour and appearance. Well-grounded cooking, with firm roots, that’s delicious and sophisticated but has a solid basis: pure “terroir”. We also have another restaurant called Sa Tafona that only opens in the evenings for guests staying at the hotel. Here we serve fun, modern tapas that are designed to entertain our guests; everything arrives at the table at the same time, at a good pace, and combines different produce exclusively found on the island. This restaurant is firmly focused on cooking produce from our land, which is enormous. Here we don’t want anything too showy: dishes with three, four, or at most five recognisable ingredients, cooked with modern techniques but not cutting-edge. We’re not looking for innovation here, we just want fantastic produce.

As well as the hotel guests, what kind of customer do you expect at the Son Bunyola restaurants?
We hope that Mallorca’s good customers who have a high standard of living and are extremely discerning come and visit. Twenty years ago, when I was working on the island, I noticed that there were lots of sophisticated customers. We want these people to come to the hotel, enjoy the surroundings, the high-quality service, the views and, of course, the food. 

We’ll be committed to offering an overall experience and also to the environment!

Spring onion, squid and roasted garlic. Hotel Son Bunyola

Spring onion, squid and roasted garlic © Hotel Son Bunyola

How do you feel about this new stage in your life?
I’m in the best place I’ve ever been, with the calm that comes with maturity. I’m feeling great after having managed a couple of restaurants in Ibiza as Partner Chef, one of which was highly recommended in the guides for its excellent food.

I think the change in thinking we’re seeing in the hotel business gives me a different perspective, a more pragmatic view. After so many years, I think the best place to grow as a chef and as a person is in a big hotel chain like Virgin which also offers me a great journey, I’m here to do lots of things with them, it’s a company where I feel really at ease and I hope it stays that way for the next few years. Maybe we won’t stop at Son Bunyola... There are lots more projects near the islands.

What challenges are you ready to take on next?
I want to be happy and cook honestly. I’ve just been through tough post-Covid times at the restaurants I was managing before. I want to enjoy Mallorca, its people, the wonderful restaurants and especially my work in the kitchen. Have a successful start and get back into the big league, that’s what it’s all about. And here we’ve got the backing, the financial and human resources to do an amazing job. The whole fantastic team behind it is doing a huge amount of work and we want to position the restaurants among the greats, make them places to visit, because I think the hotel is going to be one of the greats. We want people to make a special journey here to eat well. And, aside from the fact that coming here means a holiday, I want them to have a great experience with the food.

Scallops, farm citrus and caviar. Hotel Son Bunyola, Mallorca

Scallops, farm citrus and caviar © Hotel Son Bunyola

And in the long term? What are your goals?
I want to stay with the company for a long time and see if the guides take notice of us. Perhaps we’ll succeed in positioning the hotel as a benchmark in the chain.

What’s your experience of the food revolution that is happening in Mallorca?
I used to work here twenty years ago, I began my career at one of the best hotels on the island (the Michelin-starred El Olivo restaurant at Sir Richard Branson’s hotel La Residencia). So, years ago, I came to the island to learn how to cook at the beginning of my career. And now, years later, I’ve come back to keep on learning, and also to teach. And that’s really special and gives me great satisfaction. I’ve always been very aware of the food revolution in Mallorca because I’ve kept an eye on the restaurants and my chef friends. I’ve got some great friends on the island: Josef Sauerschell (Raco des Teix, Deia), who was my mentor and teacher; Marc Fosh (Marc Fosh Restaurant), a great friend and also one of my idols who taught me a totally ground-breaking way of viewing cooking; Guillen Méndez (La Residencia), another great friend; Joan Marc (Restaurante Joan Marc), my comrade-in-arms, who I started out with and is now a seasoned veteran at his restaurant... They’re all chefs that I admire, I’ve learned a lot from them and have shared knowledge and work with them for years, and now they’ve happy and settled in their own places. I’d like to get into that same flow and hope I’ll go down well here too.

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