Don’t be fooled by the unassuming façade outside of San Juan’s The Giri Café – inside, the stunningly beautiful garden restaurant setting is second only to head chef Xavier Doménech Moreno’s elegant and thoughtfully prepared Mediterranean dishes. With an emphasis on organic, simple ingredients and laidback living, Moreno is a culinary gem on the fast-paced island, sharing his passion for rustic-meets-haute cuisine and emphasizing a holistic, experience-based approach to dining.
Who inspired you to become a chef?
It was my ex-wife who suggested it. I’ve had a thousand other jobs, but finally she was the one who said, ‘Why don’t you pursue cooking?’ I’ve always loved to cook, but I hadn’t seriously considered it a career until I was a bit older – I started when I was 29. But my family had always cooked – in Barcelona the people are very traditional and food is a very important part of our culture.
Tell us a bit about your background?
I’m from Barcelona, but I’ve been coming to Ibiza since I was 16 years old, and I have a very special relationship with the island. When I decided I was going to become a chef, I studied at Hofman culinary school and since then I haven’t stopped. I worked in different cities in Spain, Brazil, France, China – many places. This year I’m going to Thailand to get even more inspiration.
What led you to work at The Giri Café?
I found work at The Giri through a friend. I was living in Madrid at the time, and the general manager of the restaurant Ramses in Madrid is friends with Lars, Rosa, Alberto – the owners of Giri. They needed a cook and I was recommended through word of mouth. It wasn’t hard for them to convince me to make the move!
How do you describe your style in the kitchen?
This is an important aspect of my philosophy on cooking: I used to work in normal restaurants where it’s very stressful, but this is not the type of stress I like for my food. Of course, you don’t want to wait forever for a dish to come out, and I’m not saying that I like slow food – but we make some dishes with elaboration and it’s a process that shouldn’t be rushed. And in the end, I think it makes all the difference in the quality and the feel of a dish.
And your style of cuisine on The Giri Café menu?
I love the restaurant because it encompasses the philosophy that the owners have with the type of food I make, which is very local, all about the product – simple but refined at the same time. I feel very comfortable here.
What is your signature/star dish?
My favourite right now is the scallop tartare. It’s spectacular – honestly! It’s a very fresh plate that has a contrast of flavours and has a very elegant texture. It comes on half a lime and it’s like finger food, and you have to suck it off the lime and get all that lime juice flavour. It’s different what people expect to get. I love it.
What’s your own favourite food?
Mediterranean food for me is what I like best; it’s my roots and my personal taste. But I also like Japanese, Greek, Moroccan… I’m a chef – I like it all!
What are your favourite restaurants in Ibiza?
I still don’t have a favourite restaurant…I’ve only been in Ibiza a month. I need to explore a bit!
What do you like the most about living in Ibiza?
Everything. I love the countryside, the beach, the climate, the energy, the mentality of people, the quiet. If you don’t like it, something is wrong with you!