Fine dining meets retreats – Chef Philipp Gandler at YogaRosa Retreats

It’s not always the case that the food at a yoga retreat warrants a mention in its own right, but at the beautifully luxurious YogaRosa Retreat it’s impossible not to be impressed.

The delicious gourmet options on offer at the stunning retreat centre really are as lovely as the boutique-resort style venue itself. Prepared by award-winning head chef Philipp Gandler – who trained under Michelin-starred German celebrity chef Alfons Schuhbeck and has successfully run a number of restaurants himself, in addition to being nominated in the Slowfoodguide – the nutritious and exquisite menus are comprised of completely local produce from Ibiza’s organic farmers. The delicious dishes are enhanced with seasonal herbs and vegetables from the retreat’s own gardens. The cuisine is 100% vegetarian, with a 100% vegan option always available, and the nutritional value of the food is at the forefront of everything meal’s creation. In addition, all water used for cooking and drinking at the resort is obtained from precipitation and has been processed through a reverse osmosis filter.

Each day Philipp whips up a selection of healthy smoothies for YogaRosa’s guests using whatever is in its prime from the flourishing vegetable patch, often adding a fabulous special powder which Rosa calls her ‘happy powder’ because of its amazing healing properties! After the morning yoga session, guests are served refreshing fruit plates and later, a very healthy brunch. Dinner is an extra special affair at YogaRosa. Taken at the beautiful banqueting table, there are usually three or four courses with an appetiser to start. Philipp says that they never know exactly what they will serve until the day, to ensure they are using ingredients that are at their absolute best. Wine is also on offer in the evenings for those who would like it to accompany their meal.

Despite his talent for creating the most amazing vegetarian and vegan food, Phillipp has not always been a vegetarian and vegan chef. He used to eat and cook meat before he came to YogaRosa Retreats and in fact, he used to hunt. He believes hunting is at least much more humane for the animal than for example, factory farming. Interestingly, before becoming a chef he had a lucrative career as a silversmith in his native Austria, where he qualified as a master but already knew that it was not the life for him, and quit one week later. After an unpaid apprenticeship and three years training under Alfons Schuhbeck in Germany he returned to Austria to set up his own restaurant in the Alps, where he met Rosa for the first time. Her family became regulars at Phillipp’s restaurant because of his amazing food, and the rest is history.

Philipp hopes he can show his guests through his amazing menu that they can eat completely vegetarian food without feeling like they are missing anything, and can give them new ideas that they can take away to try at home. Rosa stresses they do not view meat as ‘bad’, but she no longer eats it herself and felt that a vegan and vegetarian menu was more fitting for the retreat. Philipp adds that in fact a vegetarian diet makes more sense on the white isle where its too hot to eat heavy food, as a diet without meat is much lighter and easier for the body to process.

Despite being from Austria and having trained in Germany, Philipp learnt French cuisine, not German, and his cooking style is very much Mediterranean, although not typically Spanish as this does not lend itself well to a veggie and vegan menu. He explains how he balances the menu nutritionally to ensure that it provides all the proteins we need, and he includes lots of nuts, chickpeas and lentils. One thing is for sure though – he’s not going to tell us about his signature dish! He simply doesn’t have one. Cooking is so much more than one dish, he says, and the menu is something that should be thought about on the day of the meal, when you see the food at the market and you know what ingredients are available. There is a right time for something, and that’s when you eat it. Philipp’s menu at YogaRosa Retreat changes in accordance with this principle, and that’s how you know you will only eat the freshest and best food there, whichever day you go.

The concept behind Rosa’s amazing YogaRosa Retreats is that you learn to connect with and feel your inner self. Rosa guides you towards this goal through her yoga and meditation sessions, and Philipp has the same goal and does the same with his delicious and wholesome, Michelin-starred food.