At just 24 years of age, Kyupiddo by B.For head chef Emilse García, may be one of the youngest head chefs in Ibiza, but what she lacks in years, she makes up for in experience, passion and enthusiasm. Born in Spain, her family emigrated to Argentina when she was very young, where she found herself immersed in a world where cooking was at the heart of the family unit. It was no surprise then, that she would ultimately find herself at the helm of an internationally renowned kitchen, as her studies and travels saw her train and work in many different places around the world, before fate sent her to Ibiza…
What inspired you to be a chef? My parents were my inspiration in the kitchen. Ever since I was little, they were buying cooking magazines, and every Sunday my aunts were making homemade ravioli and I would watch how they did it, and help! Every weekend, my mother would go to the market and buy all the fresh produce, and my three brothers and I would cook something together every Sunday. Later on, I started to cook a little more, cakes and things… and here I am!
Tell us about your experience? I’ve never worked anywhere that wasn’t gastronomy related! Originally I studied in Argentina, and I needed to work to pay for my studies so I started working in a local Japanese restaurant. After my studies, I worked in restaurants in Buenos Aires until I decided to go traveling. I did a season with the famous (two) Michelin starred chef Mauro Colagreco in Punta del Este, and another eight months with him in France, then I returned to Buenos Aires and Punta del Este where I met the guys from Kyupiddo, who brought me to Ibiza.
What was it that attracted you to the island? Ibiza has always caught my attention. I love the beach and I am always looking for new places to go on vacation – plus my profession goes perfectly with travel. When I was offered the opportunity to come to Ibiza and be in charge of the kitchen, it was a great challenge for me, so I took it. The personal challenge is being away from my family, and the professional challenge is to put into practice all the things I have learned, to make an effort to do all the things I love, and to add a little of my own style, somewhere new.
How do you describe your cooking style? I don’t ever want to just put food on a plate and serve it. I want people to eat a dish and have something spring to mind. For example, if you order a tasting platter of shellfish, I want it to give you the feeling of the beach, the sea and the sand in the presentation – edible elements that evokes the feeling of a holiday. Things that remind you of the experience – not that it’s a simple dish. With everything I cook, I want you to experience the combination of salty, crunchy, cold and hot… combined with the view here, you get the feeling of ‘wow!’
And your style in the kitchen? I’m the boss. Even though I get along great with all of the guys in the kitchen, I need to manage the staff, and I try to avoid all the bad things I have seen previous bosses of mine do! But I am young, and I’m still learning – I’m learning every day!
Tell us about the style of cuisine at Kyupiddo? It’s fusion food. It’s very difficult to merge Japanese food with any other cuisine, but the Mediterranean-based food here in Ibiza works well with it. What we do at Kyupiddo is incorporate Japanese ingredients with Mediterranean food – there’s no sushi!
What is your signature dish? The star dish here is definitely the San Pedro – a fish that has been sautéed with mushrooms, topped with foie gras and cream of shiitake mushrooms – for me, this is the best dish on the menu.
What is your own favourite food? When I’m not working, I adore tortilla (Spanish omelette)! It’s super basic, but I love it. My grandmother is Spanish and she makes the very best tortillas. Oh, and obviously I love Argentinean barbeques!
What do you like most about living in Ibiza? I love the people here, the mentality, the weather… There are so many hidden places to discover that are amazing – there’s nowhere else like it in the world.