Meet the chef: Juan Dechecco, Es Vive

Photography by Ana Lui

As head chef of the busy Hotel Es Vive restaurant, Juan Dechecco – who first came to Ibiza from Argentina five years ago – is continually being complimented by guests who love his healthy, homemade style of cooking, infused with international flavours inspired by his winter travels. Despite regular offers from hotel guests to work abroad for them in the off-season, he prefers the freedom that living and working in Ibiza gives him – the freedom to live from summer to summer, and to indulge his love of traveling.

What inspired you to become a chef?
I started cooking about 15 years ago. First, I studied human resources at university, then worked for corporate companies for about seven years, but I just didn’t like my career very much, so I decided to follow my instinct (and my hobby) and study cooking.

What led you to work at Es Vive?
After four years running a restaurant with my brother in Buenos Aires, we went to Brazil where [Sands head chef] Luciano Scardaccione was working – we all come from the same town. Together we started a small Mediterranean Thai restaurant. We were there for two years and at the time, Luciano was working at Es Vive in the summers, so I also came to work here about four years ago.

How do you describe your style in the kitchen?
I studied Swiss cuisine, but I like a lot of French cuisine and a lot of different methods of cooking. Not recipes, but how to do different things. I create my own recipes, my own desserts and try to be 100 percent homemade and original – I do not buy anything frozen.

What is your signature dish?
Because I’m Argentinean, I really like working with beef with a lot, with all kinds of different cuts from the cow but I also do a really great grilled lubina (sea bass) cooked with a little steam. It comes with mash potatoes (made using Cacao butter instead of butter) plus brulee and cane sugar with balsamic vinegar and asparagus sautéed with Cacao butter. Cacao butter is so tasty – it’s my own recipe based on flavours from the north east of Brazil. It’s really good!

What’s your own favourite food?
I’m quite particular. I’m healthy, I like to eat healthily, I like to cook healthy food and I also like to live healthily. So when I go out for dinner I prefer good white fish with nice salad and sauce, but not a lot of butter or flour. Always something healthy.

What are your favourite restaurants in Ibiza?
Sa Punta, where my brother [head chef Diego Dechecco] works. You know you’re getting fresh healthy food there.

What do you like the most about living in Ibiza?
I work six months in Es Vive, then the other six months are for me. I travel, go to Argentina, skateboard, surf and I don’t work for a boss in an office! In Ibiza the people are cool and I get to spend time with my family. I’m a sporty guy, so I love being outdoors, dirt bike riding, I love the beaches – Es Torrent, Cala Nova, Aguas Blancas and near Kumharas where there are waves, or Es Cavallet and Punta Galera just to hang out. I am really happy with my life – I live summer to summer!