Meet the chef: Ramiro Valdez, Pacha Restaurante

Photography by Ana Lui

Originally hailing from Uruguay, Pacha head chef Ramiro Valdez came to Ibiza 11 years ago, lured by the laidback Spanish lifestyle and culture. An integral part of the team responsible for ensuring Pacha is renowned for its world-class restaurant, not just its dance floor, he runs the traditional Mediterranean kitchen with skill, professionalism and pride.

What inspired you to become a chef?
I started catering trade school in Uruguay then did a post-grade in Galicia, in the north of Spain. When I learnt about the country’s lifestyle and culture, I really wanted to stay. The only place where there was employment was the Balearics, so I went to the airport desk, asked where the first plane was going to and it was Ibiza. So here I am!

How did you come to work at Pacha?
I worked in a Mediterranean restaurant in Playa Den Bossa for five long and hard years, where we worked just six months of the year but didn’t have a day off. Then a friend of mine told me Pacha Restaurante was looking for someone and so I came here six years ago.

How do you describe your style in the kitchen?
Everything goes smoothly. On some occasions I get really stressed, like the Pacha anniversary, when we have to prepare more than 15 000 small plates, but our team has been working together for six years so even with just a look we understand what the other wants.

What is your signature dish?
Every year we modify the menu, but the demand for the fillet steak with grilled foie on top is so high we can’t take it off! People also love the ‘Huevos Estrellados’, which is scrambled eggs with fries, together with the very best foie or the finest cured Spanish ham. It is very simple, but our guests absolutely love it.

How does your kitchen work in synergy with the sushi lounge?
We have two separate sections: Mediterranean with a Japanese influence, and Japanese with a Mediterranean fusion. We started doing fusion between these cuisines before anybody else on the island. We create two separate menus, but (sushi chef) Jotta and I always discuss them together first, as well as trying any fusion dishes we create. Sometimes it gets a bit complicated in peak season, because people at one table order from both menus and it’s difficult because you have to time the dishes to go out at the same moment, but we’ve been working together for enough years now to understand exactly how each other’s kitchens work.

What are your favourite restaurants in Ibiza?
I love eating fresh fish, rice dishes and all Mediterranean food so I like El Bigote and Ses Boques in Cala Conte – the view there is beautiful. For Asian food I like Ancient People in Ibiza Town. I like to eat things I don’t do or can’t do. If I can do them then I’m very critical!

What do you like the most about living in Ibiza?
I love the sea in Ibiza and I love diving. I like Formentera too. I used to party a lot, but now things have changed – I have two kids, so I don’t go out anymore. It would be nicer for the season to expand a bit and leave just January and February to us!