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Tomeu Martí. Arume, no Labels

Tomeu Martí. Arume, no Labels

Tomeu Martí © ffmag

Freedom, in the broadest sense of the word, defines the culinary personality of Tomeu Martí, chef and owner of the restaurant Arume. Freedom to create without limits, freeing his recipes from unnecessary labels. “Arume is not Japanese cuisine. Nor Asian. Nor Mediterranean”. Arume is pure fusion, an experience that elegantly combines two sides of the same chef: the Mediterranean and Asia, blending ingredients, flavours and textures with a sense of delicateness and originality. Above all, however, “Arume is Tomeu’s cuisine”, says the chef.


How are you? How do you feel right now and where are you at professionally speaking?
I think we have reached a point of maturity, both in terms of age and in terms of the structure of Arume. We have always tried to maintain quality. We keep on battling every day and taking things one step at a time. We have a fairly long trajectory behind us, with many ups and downs that in the end we have always managed to overcome. And, personally speaking, I think I am at a very good point in terms of maturity. I have a portfolio of clients that gives me a lot of freedom and a lot of confidence and, in the end, that is essential.

What are the premises that define your cooking?
Quality and raw ingredients, first and foremost. After that, the rest all follows in importance: the structure, the staff, the service, a good wine cellar, paying attention to small details and so on. But I think that, in regards to the food, quality is about not overworking the produce and sourcing top ingredients.

Nigiri. Arume Restaurant, Mallorca

Nigiri © Arume

What is Arume’s food like?
It’s Tomeu cuisine. I make food that I would like to eat in a restaurant. That’s why I don’t like to focus on just one thing and that’s very fortunate. I don’t want to have to classify my food in one category or another. Arume isn’t a Japanese restaurant. I do what I want. I have many ambiguities and in my restaurant you will find a host of different cuisines: Mediterranean, Thai, Vietnamese and much more. But I don’t want to pigeonhole myself to any one. It’s the cuisine that we feel and we develop it in the way we think is best, with the flavours and nuances that we like. And customers comes to Arume to enjoy an experience.

I make food that I would like to eat in a restaurant

What is Tomeu Martí like in the kitchen?
I’m an innovative and responsible person. I think I know how to listen and understand people. But they also have to listen to me, and when they don’t listen to me, I can be quite extreme. Because, if I’m pushing forward, I need people to push forward with me. 

And outside of the kitchen? How would you describe your personality?
Outside, I’m a sensible, very cheerful, very fun person. I have my moments, but I try to enjoy life, which in the end is very important, and try to make sure life is the best it can be. When I’m outside of the kitchen, I try to escape completely from the restaurant sector. In terms of my personality, I would highlight my way of creating bonds with people that gradually amounts to more. I like to meet good people who bring good things to my life. And I also like to bring the same to others. I’m an honest person, who says things as they are. Maybe that’s why I don’t have many friends in the kitchen.

Sashimi. Arume japanese Restaurant. Mallorca

Sashimi © Arume

How do you see the future of Arume?
I don’t really know. Arume is moving forward at a frenetic pace right now. We have some ideas on how we would like to see ourselves in the future, because I’m getting older. Sometimes I think I made a mistake with the Arume approach, because it’s too personalised a concept. If a customer comes and Tomeu is not there, sometimes it’s a problem. Because people like me to greet them when they come. I have in mind a restaurant project for just ten diners. It would be a good way to finish off my career, because the pace I’m going at is quite hard. I’d like to see myself like that in the future. 

In your opinion, what is the state of the gastronomy sector in Mallorca today?
I think we are improving by the day. Partly because companies are making a commitment to quality and I think that is very important. We could also say that the type of tourism on the island is changing for the better, although in my case I don’t rely on tourism. I live off of everyday customers and, above all, from the many foreigners living in Mallorca. That is why we can afford to stay open all year round.

Arume Restaurant. Mallorca

Arume © Arume

The island is currently undergoing a great gastronomic revolution. The arrival of great chefs, restaurants and hotels is having a lot of bearing on the island. But problems are starting to arise, such as a lack of staff. How do you deal with that at Arume?
It’s a very delicate problem. When I studied at catering school, the first year there were 84 of us. The second year we were down to 50. This year there were only ten people in the catering school training to be chefs. These days, nobody wants to work in a restaurant because the conditions are tough (the split schedule, working on weekends, etc.). It is almost impossible to find people who are willing to do it. It’s like a dog chasing its own tail. Naturally, these kinds of obstacles prevent us from growing as we would like to. But we deal with it the best we can. My wife works front of house and she is the biggest support I have. That’s why we like to imagine the future, just the two of us running a small restaurant.

What do you think about awards and recognition in the world of gastronomy?
I don’t really like that world much. In the end, the purpose of my star is so I can have a full restaurant every day. We battle on day after day. And if something comes along, great. But we don’t strive for it, and, above all, we don’t change the way we are or our perspective of the restaurant sector for that purpose. We are quite humble, simple… and we have something that I think is working just fine.

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