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What’s cooking in Ibiza? Bespoke private chef experiences

04 November 19

When you’re on holiday in Ibiza, the last thing you want to think about is the eternal ‘what’s for dinner?’ question, let alone have to worry about where to buy ingredients on a foreign island. Enlisting the services of a private chef – whether to prep your meals for the duration of your holiday, or to create a special lunch or celebratory evening meal – allows you to step back from your day-to-day responsibilities and let someone else cater to your every whim… quite literally.

Santi Serra is one of the most experienced and long-standing private chefs on the island and he’s worked very closely with us here at Ibiza Villas for many years. In addition to being a master chef himself – his career has taken him from Michelin starred restaurants around the world to working as a private chef for high-profile celebrities and politicians – Santi also boasts a direct line to the highest calibre of private chefs in Ibiza. The same way we work to match the right Ibiza villa to each client, he strives to find the chefs most suited to each client’s individual needs and tastes. His carefully-honed knowledge, combined with years of experience, is what helps us put together tailor-made chef-to-client arrangements. 

“There is a kind of psychology to it,” Santi admits. “Being a private chef is not the same as working in a restaurant or a hotel kitchen. When you’re working alongside clients in a private villa, you could be with them for up to 18 hours a day, for one week, two weeks – even a month or more!” He thinks about the types of groups we cater to in our Ibiza villas, and speculates that the chefs can often be with the guests more than the drivers, or any other staff for that matterIt’s really important to get the relationship right,” he continues. “I always say it is 50% about the menus, the food and the cooking and the other 50% is what the chef is giving of themselves, to make it an enjoyable and satisfying experience for the guests.”

Santi’s own journey as a private chef started over ten years ago, when he was contacted by an agency in London looking for a chef who would spend a summer in Ibiza, working for an international supermodel. The brief he was given was to prepare a meal that was a favourite from his own family – something his parents or grandparents may have loved to cook at home. “I prepared a beautiful Ibiza free-range chicken, slow-roasted with fresh rosemary,” he recallsThe client loved it and I ended up working for her all summer. As it turned out, the client was Australian icon Elle Macpherson, and paparazzi were regularly documenting her stay on the white isle. “I became a little bit famous that summer!” Santi laughs. 

When it comes to catering to high profile clients in Ibiza these days, Santi says not a lot has changed from that first job. “Many clients want the same kind of food as I cooked on that first job all those years ago,” he says. “They come from London, from New York, from busy lives where they have the opportunity to eat in incredible restaurants all over the world. When they come on holiday, they have a desire to eat simple, easy food. Chicken, fish, lots of salad, paella, tapas, seafood – clients don’t come on holiday wanting complicated, over-manipulated food. They want simple, fresh ingredients, beautifully cooked with authentic flavours.” The flavours of the Mediterranean and the abundant, fresh produce of Ibiza are ideal for such menus, although all of our chefs have a few tricks up their sleeves, should anyone be seeking a more elaborate menu.

From your daily breakfasts – healthy, detox or indulgent – and poolside barbecues to family-friendly meals or decadent dinners, curating a week (or more) worth of menus for our villa clients is as much of a pleasure for our chefs as it is for those on the receiving end of their skills. Being allowed the freedom and creativity to design meals for people of all ages and from all walks of life is a very different career path to slogging it out in a hot restaurant kitchen, serving up the exact same dishes, day in, day out. In addition to curating a team of full-time private chefs for Ibiza Villas guests, Santi also works with us to create alternative one-off culinary experiences for those villa guests who don’t opt for the full service. “We can arrange a full kitchen and wait staff team for a special event in a villa,” he says“It might be an evening of tapas or seafood, a luxurious brunch or a spectacular sushi buffet. Actually, we have an amazing sushi chef who is always in demand.” And when the meal is over, of course we’ll clear everything away afterwards – not a finger to be lifted by our guests!

For those with a passion for epicurean pleasures, we can also arrange one-to-one training and workshops with our private chefs – you can go home with a new skill along with your suntan. Woften get asked to show guests to prepare the perfect paella,” says Santi. “Sometimes, people want to learn how to bake a sea bass the traditional Mediterranean way in the bed of sea salt, or in some cases they want to learn the correct way to slice jamon. More adventurous guests can even have an afternoon out on a boat to fish for their own catch of the day before taking it back to the villa for a personal lesson in how to debone, prepare and cook the perfect fish supper – it’s a money can’t buy level of satisfaction, and exactly the kind of unique and memorable experience our Ibiza-based team love too.

Whether you’re a passionate foodie, an amateur chef or just someone who wants to be taken care of, our private chefs are here to ensure all your culinary needs are taken care of. With that in mind, we asked Santi what he looks for in a personal chef to join the Ibiza Villas team. “Lots of experience as a private chef, of course,” he says. “It is a very unique role with lots of client-facing time, so it is important they understand the way to smoothly ease the holiday experience for the guests. Our chefs must be adaptable and flexible to guests’ plans changing at the last minute – they’re on holiday and plans often change – it’s the Ibiza way! Oh, and it helps if they are good looking,” he adds with a wink and a smile. “All clients like a good looking chef in the kitchen!”

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