Over the past decade, the White Isle has seen an incredible influx of international chef talent arrive on its shores, with star-studded names and cuisines from all over the globe adding to the culinary variety of the island.
But it’s important not to forget that Ibiza – and, on a larger scale, the Balearic archipelago – has a rich culinary culture and is home to some of the freshest, most flavoursome produce that leaves even world-renowned culinary experts swooning.
And who better to champion the local cuisine than a homegrown talent?
Taking the reins at Petunia Ibiza, young Mallorquin chef Baltasar Rigo is dedicated to share the taste of the Balearic Islands with both hotel guests and foodies visiting one of the boutique resort’s three restaurants alike.
At only 28, Rigo can already look back over an impressive career that began at the Hotel Nixe Palace in Mallorca before moving on to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. In 2016, he started to work at Michelin Star restaurant PAKTA in Barcelona, owned by the world-famous Albert Adrià, eventually returning to Mallorca where he joined Hotel Santa Font and the Michelin Guide listed Daica restaurant. After honing his craft in these illustrious kitchens, Baltasar made his debut as head chef at Finca Serena and, later, opened Can Ferrereta, a member of Small Luxury Hotels.
Baltasar’s experience in the luxury hotel world made him the perfect choice to take the lead at Petunia Ibiza, part of the renowned Beaumier Group, which is famous for its emphasis on design and culinary excellence.
The Mallorquin kitchen star has put his heart and soul into creating the new menus at the beautiful resort, taking on the challenge of not only running three kitchens, but also to open new ‘raw bar’ concept La Mirada.
When we speak to Baltasar, he has only been at Petunia Ibiza – and, indeed, the island – for two months.
As a born and bred native, he knows the Balearic Islands and their culinary prowess well, and is passionate about showcasing the fantastic local produce and traditional dishes of his home region – but with an avant-garde twist.
Here, he talks about the incredible flavours of the archipelago and the importance to appreciate and honour the treasures to be found on your doorstep…
When did you discover your passion for cooking and what inspires you?
The first people I learned from were my parents, who both owned a family restaurant. I am only 28 years old now, but I have already worked as a cook for 12 years. I have always championed the local produce from the Balearic Islands, but I also enjoy Italian influences. The pizza here at Petunia is very good, and we have people who come here especially for that!
There are no less than three different dining concepts at Petunia Ibiza. Can you explain a little bit about each one?
Los Olivos by the pool is the most relaxed. There are sharing plates, tapas dishes like croquetas, paellas and international favourites like pizza or the classic Club Sandwich. But as I want to highlight the local produce at each restaurant, we use the Pan Llonguet bread, for example, which is typical from Mallorca. I always try to infuse each plate with a little touch from the Balearic Islands.
La Mesa d’es Vedrà is a little bit more gastronomic. I would describe the dishes as ‘fine dining’ rather than ‘haute cuisine’, though. We use different and new cooking techniques, but the menu is rooted in local produce and I don’t want to manipulate that too much. We want to represent the traditional Balearic cuisine, but in an elaborate and elevated way. For example, we have a black suckling pig from Mallorca on the menu, which is another delicacy from the islands.
And the new restaurant, La Mirada, will focus on raw cuisine, such as marinated fish and seafood dishes – like scallops with saffron marinade and a quinoa soufflé – but always with a touch of the Mediterranean. For example, I might use fish caught in the Basque Country or Hamachi [Yellowtail] and the way it’s cut will be an Asian technique, but it is presented on the plate alongside ingredients from the Balearic Islands. And then, of course, you enjoy the food with those views on Es Vedrá!
You are a big champion of the incredible local produce that can be found in the Balearic Islands…
Yes, our focus is to get as much produce as possible locally. We cook with a love of the region and to share the taste of the islands. We are also building up our own garden in the grounds of the hotel; the idea is to work with our own fruit, vegetables and herbs as much as possible. At the moment it’s not enough to supply all three restaurants, but the plants are growing nicely and we can offer some special dishes made with Petunia ingredients. In the future, we want to do that more and more.
Do you change the menu according to the seasons?
Due to the length and timings of the holiday season, you might see some alterations in September, but our guests will mostly experience the menu prepared with summer ingredients. However, I work with seasonal specials, of course, such as the asparagus that can be found in the pre-summer or the cold Ajoblanco soup, which is made with crushed almonds. So the menus stay mostly the same, with some special dishes that showcase the seasonal produce of the current season.
What would be one of your current personal recommendations for guests to try?
It’s difficult for me to choose, of course, but at La Mesa d’es Vedrá, for example, the aubergine with sobrasada and cheese from Mahon is a real star dish. And the cod from Cantabria is amazing, because we found a very special supplier – so the taste is incredible.
How intertwined are the three restaurants?
When we have events, it’s a nice opportunity for the guests to sample the best of all three restaurants. But generally the idea is that they are kept separate as each has its own identity. For example, we serve breakfast and dinner at La Mesa d’es Vedrá, lunch is by the poolside at Los Olivos, and La Mirada is the perfect spot for sunset cocktails and dinner, but it is only open in the evening. This gives our guests the chance to also try different atmospheres.
Sunset cocktails with those views! Amazing!
Yes, La Mirada on the roof of our main building has got a lower level that is dedicated especially to that occasion. Outside visitors are very welcome to come and enjoy the views on Es Vedrá from here, all we ask is a €25 minimum spend per person to ensure it doesn’t get too crowded. And what often happens is that people come for an aperitif on the rooftop and then stay for dinner.
It’s great that you welcome visitors who are not staying at the hotel…
Yes, it is really important to us that holidaymakers and locals know they can join us here even if they are not staying with us. We will have a selection of special culinary and music events over the summer, and everybody is welcome!