From the minute you step inside San Juan’s coolest dining destination The Giri Café, an instant feeling of good vibes washes over you. Sure, it’s a beautiful setting, the lush garden is drenched in glorious sunlight and the scents wafting from the kitchen are mouth-watering, but there’s something extra… It’s the warmth, the smiles and the service from The Giri Café ‘dream team’ that make it so special – fuelled by a genuine desire to ensure you have the most amazing experience possible.
Rosa Pil Hildebrandt, co-owner, director – aka ‘hostess-with-the-mostess
As the person responsible for cleverly orchestrating all the elements of a successful restaurant to come together seamlessly, Rosa fell into her role as a restaurateur and rolled with it! After successful advertising careers in Denmark, she and husband Lars took a sabbatical, which led them to relocate to Ibiza, where Rosa had been holidaying and spending her summers since she was two years old. The couple – whose hobby was transforming properties into stylish abodes – co-founded the The Giri Residence and a year later were given the chance to open The Giri Café. The proof of Rosa’s success, you could say, is in the delicious Giri puddings!
When asked for the key to her winning formula of a team for 2014? “I pick people based on personality,” she says. “They have to have a sparkle in their eyes and the ability to improvise, work as a team and look at a person and instinctively know what they need. We can always teach all of the other skills required if needed.”
Xavier Doménech Moreno, head chef
Now in his third season at The Giri Café, Xavi keeps the kitchen under control throughout the long summer days and nights. Hailing from Barcelona, he has been visiting Ibiza since he was 16 years old, and while he travelled and worked his way around the globe, the island always held a special place in his heart. “It wasn’t hard to convince me to move here,” he says of receiving the job offer at The Giri Café.
“There has been such an evolution in the kitchen since I arrived – at first it was like our newborn child, and now we have an amazing team, we’re seeing the fruits of our labour. Being a chef is 70% management… every day brings a new challenge.”
Hailing from Spain’s La Rioja region, Eva first came to Ibiza 11 years ago and made the permanent, all-year-round move to the island in 2010. After the birth of her son, she was looking for some part-time work she could fit in around her family, and as her sister worked next door at The Giri Residence, she suggested she meet with Rosa. As fate would have it, Rosa needed someone to take care of the morning shift and the two clicked.
“I love showing the garden to people and explaining the menu, and where all the food comes from,” says Eva, who also has the tough girl task of carrying out all the chairs each day!
Having previously worked with chef Xavi in the famed Ramses restaurant in Madrid, it was just one fateful phone call that inspired sous chef Dani make the move to Ibiza! “I’m so happy here,” he says. “It’s not like the city where everything seems stressful! You wake up, you’re in Ibiza and you’re doing what you love every day – it’s such a nice place to be.”
Nicknamed ‘the rice magician’ by Rosa, Dani credits his grandmother’s techniques for his success with the grain and when you taste one of the Giri risottos, you’ll understand what we mean.
“I fell in love with Ibiza from the first day I arrived,” says Ludi, of her adopted home. Originally Ludi began work with The Giri Café and Residence to help with accounts and knows both businesses inside out, but having grown up in a family of restaurant owners, it wasn’t long before she found her way out of the office and into the restaurant more permanently.
By day, Ludi ensures everything runs smoothly form receiving supplies and taking reservations to looking after customers, office work and yes, still crunching numbers! “I love seeing people experience special moments here,” she says. “The look on their faces when they look in from the outside, and discover what is inside… it’s like, wow!”
Ivan, night manager – aka ‘the night guru’
“My job involves doing too many things at the same time,” laughs Madrid-born Ivan, when we ask him what his role at The Giri Café entails. The charming and experienced barman – who devised the delicious 2014 bespoke cocktail menu – also helps out in the restaurant, making sure things run smoothly when the pace picks up.
“You can’t control everything during the dinner service in a restaurant,” he says. “But you can deal with it without stress, and just make sure you try your best to make everyone happy.”
Emmi, kitchen hand – aka ‘the equilibrium’
As the only girl in the intimate kitchen at The Giri Café, Emmi brings a very important balance to the space… otherwise too much testosterone in such a confined space could be too much!
Born in Paraguay, the lovely kitchen hand says the tight-knit team work well together, citing her colleagues as her favourite part of her job. While other girls may feel intimidated in her position, Emmis says the boys in the kitchen tend to take care of her like a little sister… ‘mas o menos’!
Gilmar, waiter – aka ‘the friendly face’
Über friendly, smiling and sweet, Gilmar – who was born in El Salvador and came to Spain in 2006 – says it’s important for the team at The Giri Café to support each other and chip in to help wherever they can. “When I applied for the job, the website said they were looking for people with their feet in the earth, and that really appealed to me,” he says.
“I love meeting so many different people from different countries here,” he says. “Every day is interesting. I first came to Ibiza because I loved parties, but now I love the north of the island – it’s so quiet, and the people are really different.”
David, assistant chef – aka ‘the presentation master’
Judging by his Mediterranean appearance and laidback attitude, you could be forgiven for thinking assistant chef David had lived in the north of the island for years, but the truth is, he only arrived for the first time in April this year – looks like a perfect fit!
With professional chef studies and experience working in many Michelin starred restaurants under his belt, he was the perfect addition to the team in the kitchen at The Giri Café, bringing with him a flair for presentation. “The space is super small – much smaller than I’m used to!” he laughs. “And hotter too! But I like the ambience and the team, everything runs smoothly.”