Meet the chef: Ignacio Bolaños, Jockey Club

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Photography by Ana Lui

Chef Ignacio Bolaños moved to Ibiza from Castilla La Mancha, on the mainland of Spain when he was 21. Armed with a degree from the Catering School in Madrid and a passion for cooking, he worked his way around the island’s kitchens before settling in at Jockey Club as head chef 10 years ago.

What inspired you to become a chef?
My mother. She was a great cook and I used to watch her all the time. We weren’t a very wealthy family, so my mum had lots of imagination. Her food was delicious and she is my inspiration for ideas I now carry out when preparing dishes.

How did you come to work at Jockey Club?
After a five-year break from working as a chef, I kept trying new things at home and I saw an ad saying Jockey Club was looking for a kitchen manager, so I came to talk to Julio Lanzoni and I started working here in March of 1999. One of the things I agreed with Julio is that the business was his, but the kitchen was mine. In other businesses I was really limited, but Julio allowed me to learn by giving me this freedom.

How do you describe your style in the kitchen?
It is a very small kitchen so there is strict control – everything must be done meticulously and everything has its place. My team makes everything go smoothly for me. Without them I wouldn’t be anything – we’re like a family. I introduce the ideas but then I work with them in the kitchen just like another person, preparing dishes, cutting vegetables and doing whatever is necessary. There are too many things to be shouting at people about what to do!

What is your signature dish?
I don’t really have one dish in particular – I work within the Mediterranean style of cuisine, with my own signature touches, like sweet and sour flavours. I prefer to keep changing and learning from courses in the winter and also through studying cookbooks from top chefs, incorporating their ideas into my way of cooking here.

What’s your own favourite food?
I love all kinds of meat as I come from a region of Spain where there wasn’t any fish, but I also like fish a lot. John Dory is my favourite. I eat lots of chicken because I exercise a lot and I also like sauces with my food.

What are your favourite restaurants in Ibiza?
I like El Carmen in Cala D’Hort where the paellas are really good and for fish I go to the Port of Sant Miquel, at Balanzat. If I go out at night and feel like meat I go to places like Can Caus or Can Pilot. I also go to Pacha Restaurante, where the chef is really good. I like Ama Lur a lot and Villa Mercedes is also nice because of the venue and the service…

What do you like the most about living in Ibiza?
I like the way everybody lives their own life without looking at how you dress or if you have money or not – you have lots of freedom in this aspect. And also, I love the combination of beach and mountains.