Work Of Art In La Gaia

Posted on June 7, 2016

Images: Tamara Sini

The gastronomic possibilities at the IBIZA GRAN HOTEL continue to exceed expectations, continually outdoing itself while amazing its guests in the process. Already holding the highest classification on the island with five stars Grand Luxe, the luxury hotel does not rest on its laurels. Rather, nine seasons into the game, Ibiza’s only Art Hotel continues to infuse contemporary art in its setting and culinary creations alike, with 400 and counting original artworks around the hotel and highly creative gastronomic offerings and fusions.

The multiple epicurean options in the various restaurants, technological refurbishments in the kitchen, and ongoing art collections around the hotel has the IBIZA GRAN HOTEL bring luxury to a whole other level. Unveiled this spring, La Gaia has brought a fresh twist on an already delicious and successful Nikkei cuisine, turning it into a Japeruvian gastronomic masterpiece, with Danish artist Katrin Kirk’s jellyfish murals decorating the restaurant, thus reinventing contemporary art on multiple levels.

Interview Gran Hotel Chef Omar Molna

La Gaia shares and amplifies Ibiza Gran Hotel’s refined taste and flair for exceeding expectations, mixing art with décor and avant-garde methods with traditional ones. Blending Japanese and Peruvian cuisine with Mediterranean ingredients, what emerges is something unique, for a cuisine that, after three years of evolution, delivers a triple-fusion of flavors, aromas, and even continents. Handpicking producers and suppliers, Chef Oscar Molina looks for quality and local production, sharing secrets and essences with cocktail master Dani, for an even deeper marriage between food and drinks.

Also in charge of the Pool Restaurant, room service, and Costa Mara Restaurant, home to what is known as the most spectacular breakfast on the island, Chef Oscar Molina is always at it but his passion shows through when he talks about his ingredients, his staff, his guests, his creative menu, and the ways in which he tries to anticipate and grant his clients culinary desires. Somehow managing to tear himself away from his multiple gastronomic outlets, Chef Oscar Molina came to share some of the latest news with us.

Interview Gran Hotel Chef Omar Molna

When and how did your passion for being a chef start?
My father was a chef. I didn’t like studying and was not a good student, so I started to work with him during the weekends when I was in high school. That’s where everything began in terms of my relationship with the kitchen. Then, I went to a food school and started working in luxury hotels, in Michelin star restaurants before coming to Ibiza.

What brought you to the IBIZA GRAN HOTEL?
I arrived for this project. I was in charge of the kitchen at the Hotel Casa Fuster in Barcelona, when the Spanish crisis began and working in the gastronomic specialty became very difficult. Here in THE IBIZA GRAN HOTEL, Raúl [Sierra], director of the hotel, offered me a chance to join a very ambitious future project, gastronomically speaking, and I couldn’t refuse.

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What personal touch do you bring to your gastronomic craft?
We are always learning and improving, it is a continuous evolution, it’s chance to offer and discover Peruvian cuisine. Japanese cuisine is better known, but not Peruvian, which is starting to grab a foothold now. The two flavours are very different. I enjoy the fusion of these two magnificent cuisines and offering this new experience to our clients.

What is special about La Gaia?
The people and the staff are the most special part. Gastronomically speaking we have dishes that are really technical. We have a ‘Carrillera’ (roasted beef cheek that we cook at high temperature), using a very avant-garde cooking method, but we also have traditional cuisine such as sushi, which wasn’t easy to make better and reinvent, so we are also quite traditional—ultimately La Gaia is many different things.

Interview Gran Hotel Chef Omar Molna
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The menu has recently been changed. Was it your creation and how were the selections made?
It was the evolution of three years. At first we started offering Japanese cuisine; slowly we started to introduce Peruvian cuisine, and now we offer a fusion of both, avant-garde because we try to innovate and also adapt it to European flavours so a very interesting mix. The products are from here; we work with 80% local producers and Mediterranean products, with 20% from outside. We try to fuse these three concepts. It’s very interesting what comes out.

What are some of the distinctive ingredients and flavours of this cuisine in general and the new menu in particular?
Seafood is the important protagonist, as for the ingredients, with lots of presence, cilantro, lime, purple onion and ginger —all very fresh products, fresh and agreeable to the palate, the kinds of fruits or vegetables that make dishes really pleasant and very summery.

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If you had to choose, what are three unmissable dishes on the menu?
Very difficult question because it’s like asking if one likes mum or dad more. In actuality we like all of them and each one has a meaning, as we look for a story behind each dish. But if I had to choose, my choices would be the deep fried prawns with shiso mayonnaise; the gilthead with dashi that we cook pachamanca style of stone cooking in front of the client on a hot stone and the roasted beef cheek with soya and pisco.

Considering the extensive cocktails menu, do different cocktails lend themselves to specific dishes?
We are super-lucky to have a great cocktail man called Dani, really good and also super creative. We’ve interchanged impressions and ingredients, and in the end he makes very different cocktails that fit totally with our style, going very well with the cuisine. Ultimately we are using ingredients that are not very common or used a lot. We are choosing products that we think are really good, another level, and have different flavours, which we share with the cocktail bar.

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Where do the ingredients come from?
The ingredients come from the Mediterranean, partly from Ibiza and partly from wherever the best product is. Since our cuisine is very fresh, the quality of the product is very important; therefore we seek the best quality that can be obtained and always try to work with food that’s in season.

Collaboration has featured already in the La Gaia kitchen, are there more to follow?
We have one that has been closed now which was with Ruben Alvarez. He is one of the best ice cream and pastry makers currently in Spain. Also we have a few that we are about to crystalize, one with Spain’s champion sushi man, which will be very interesting and the other with the Escuele de Pastelería y Chocolate de Barcelona (School Pastry and Chocolate of Barcelona) that will bring a renowned worldwide name to our kitchen in September/October.

Interview Gran Hotel Chef Omar Molna

IBIZA GRAN HOTEL is one of the most luxurious and exclusive on the island, how do you continue to offer clients something special?
I think we consider ourselves non-conformists who are never satisfied and always looking to improve. We always try to surprise and to surpass ourselves.

Who frequents the restaurant, only hotel guests or non-hotel ones as well?
In La Gaia we have 50% from the hotel and 50% from outside who know us, know what we do and keep coming back as regulars. We find that we have a lot of repeat customers, from restaurant only to hotel and restaurant, once people experience the IBIZA GRAN HOTEL and La Gaia, they always come back. The restaurant is not the biggest, but there is good functioning and rotation.

What is your favourite part of your job?
The favourite part of my job is interacting with the team. I think that being a chef is something generous and gratifying at the same time. You have to give a lot but also you receive a lot, interacting with a team of 50 people that are all marvelous, chosen over the course of eight years, we have assembled the perfect team that is very motivating. I compare it to art: we are surrounded by art pieces and being a chef you have the power to express something with your hands, that people teach you, that you see, and that you then deliver to others, and they like and enjoy it. This is the most gratifying: the sharing and the receiving.


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Interview Gran Hotel Chef Omar Molna