Do you also sometimes meet someone, with whom you immediately feel at ease? Simply because of the energy someone has? Such a person is Boris Bueno, husband of Spanish beauty Venexa, father of adorable identical twins Freyja and Gala AND Founder of The Ibiza Food Studio.
We met the half-Danish, half-Italian Boris on a sunny morning in picturesque Santa Gertrudis. Despite the fact that Boris had only slept a few hours because the guests were having a great time at his social dining restaurant Tallar The Tapas, he was in a good mood.
The concept of The Food Studio began in 2012, in Copenhagen. Boris was laid off for the first time in his life. He was working in Denmark's oldest seafood restaurant. "It seems strange, a long-haired hippy like me. But in a way I am very classic and I loved it. I was fired on a Wednesday and at the weekend I got calls from guests asking why I wasn't there." They no longer wanted to dine at the restaurant without Boris, so he invited them to his home. "That's how it all started. At home, a long dining table, good food and BAM.... big success". But after 2 years, Boris was kicked out of his flat because the landlord himself also had a restaurant under the flat. He was not a fan of Boris as a tenant because he would steal away all his customers. To complete the party, Boris was dumped by his girlfriend.... "This was a low point in my life. And I realised: this is the sign. I'm jumping into the deep end. I packed my bags and I came to Ibiza".
But why Ibiza?
"My father is from Naples, so the Mediterranean has been calling me all my life. I considered going to southern Italy, but the problem with southern Italy is when you do something right, someone comes knocking on your door saying 'now this is ours and we're going to open 3 more of these restaurants'. You become a slave to someone else''. Needless to say, Boris talks about the mafiosi. "I thought Ibiza could be a good stepping stone and maybe after a year I would go back to the highest level of gastronomy in Denmark". But Boris fell in love with Ibiza like many before him and has now been living on the magical island for nine years.
Do I really need to call my mother for a plane ticket home?
He started as a private chef and was a consultant at La Paloma. By chance, he found a place in town and repeated the concept. "I had no money but my financial adviser lent me 4,000 euros. The day I opened I had 300 euros left.... And no one came. The whole first week only four tables were booked. And the week after that, I was completely broke. I didn't have a red cent. I thought to myself: Really? Do I really need to call my mother for a plane ticket home?" But then a DJ friend of Boris called and asked if a friend of his could come over for dinner. Although Boris himself had almost nothing left, he still offered his Danish friend's friend to join him for dinner "The friend turned out to be Richie Hawten, the DJ! He posted on Instagram about The Food Studio and since then... my restaurant was full". Talk about a leap of faith!
"It's a story about perseverance, it's a story about never giving up. NEVER giving up. Because just when the moments are the toughest and when it seems impossible, you make the small change that is going to make the big difference."
So coming to Ibiza was the right decision after all? "We have a Danish saying: life is lived forwards, but understood backwards. I was heavily addicted when I came here, to drugs and alcohol. Battling through life. When I arrived in Ibiza, I started delving into spirituality. I met shamans, drank ayahuasca, smoked the toad ... everything. I was like a snake changing its skin". So psychedelics really changed your life for the better? "When you grow up, people will tell you that all those magical things you believe in are not true. Stop playing. Stop dreaming. Stop being a child. That's the worst thing you can do. It was a kick in the butt to start dreaming and being Peter Pan again. I forgot it at some point between my childhood and adulthood, but I got it back. I am Peter Pan and this is my island".
I’m living the coolest life
"I have found happiness in cooking again. I don't overcomplicate things. Life is very simple. It has to be lived very simply. I am a father of twins, I have a beautiful life. We all look at each other's Instagram and think 'oh wow how cool is their life, I wish I could do the same'. I don't feel that way man. I'm living the coolest life".
Were you brought up in this 'life is simple' way? Yes, I was brought up that way. I don't think my parents even realised how good they were as parents. My classmates came to my house to be with my father. Because he was a guitar teacher but also because he spoke to them at eye level as equals. 'Of course you can take the axe and chop wood at the age of 7, but I will show you how to do it the right way'," Boris says with a laugh. "He was like a second father to many of my friends. I see the same with my own children. If I try to think about it I do it wrong, if I let it happen naturally I do it right".
Fine dining doesn't have to be fancy
Boris also uses this intuition in business. "What excites me and where my passion for cooking comes from is the dinner table. Dining together. Getting together around the table after a long day's work. You discuss the good and the bad... you laugh, you cry. But it's always around the dinner table. You have different lives during the day, but at 6 o'clock you meet around the dinner table. I take fine dining from a Michelin-starred restaurant and bring it into people's homes. All the benefits of fine dining and the seriousness of the dishes, but also all the benefits of being at home. This realisation was a big 'aha' moment. Fine dining doesn't have to be fancy. That's the idea of The Food Studio".
Do you think the same thing would have happened in any other place or is Ibiza special? "No. Ibiza is very unique. It is the only place where so many people from all over the world live. We are all strangers here. Because of this, almost everyone is open to meeting each other and I think that's really great. Ibiza for me is; the hippy woman next to the millionaire dancing freely on a mountaintop. Diversity, spirituality, good food, a perfect combination of it all. That's Ibiza. I feel obliged to make the most of my life when I'm here."
Chefs with an alcohol addiction
Many people do not even see the chef while dining in a restaurant and have an image of a stressful kitchen a la Gordon Ramsay-style. How do you experience cooking? "When you cook, you put so much emotion and energy into the dish. And when you see the recipient put it in their mouth and hear the sound of 'Mmmmmm'. ' This goes straight to the brain. The same feeling when a mother breastfeeds her child, or when you see your dog when you come home from work. It is chi, prana, energy. So imagine thousands of cooks putting all their passion into their food but never seeing the end result. That's like running without legs. You do all the work but you never see people enjoying it. I realised this pretty quickly by working in open kitchens. Working with closed doors is so unhealthy. Why do you think there are so many chefs with alcohol addiction?" So no stress for you? "I'm so passionate that I sometimes freak out. But when I go bananas and I look at my daughters, I think.... fuck it. It's just food, we'll survive'.
From art to shit
Your dishes look like works of art, almost a shame to eat. "Food is the only art form that activates all the senses. The smell, the visual, the taste, the feel. It's a craftsmanship, an art form.... And then it becomes shit. And that's a great way to think about what art should really be like. It shouldn't be a commodity that we trade. It is made in the moment and you value it for the moment it is made, not for the value it may have afterwards. It is the passion, the energy and the experience of it. That is what makes you an art lover. Food is a very special art form. It doesn't last long, but the memory will".
We think it's pretty obvious, but what do you think makes The Food Studio special? "The people at The Food Studio are what make it different. I let them be themselves and express themselves. There is no set way about how we do things. We are always curious and there are always new ways. We are open-minded. That's what sets us apart".
The creative process
How do you create a new dish? We let nature dictate. The seasons. We work with nature rather than against it. And of course we stand on the shoulders of classic chefs like Escossief and the new Nordic Food Movement. I am a great remixer. My dishes are like haute couture. It's not about wearability but creativity. Pushing boundaries. Less easily edible but more intellectual or funny. In general, I am a naturalist and I love to express nature. What I really took away from the Nordic Food Movement is creating a local landscape. Creating a symphony over 10-12 courses that plays up the nature of a particular period.
Can you give us an example? "We work with products that are extremely micro-seasonal. We have a small restaurant, which means we can offer dishes that many other restaurants cannot because there is so little of it. Sometimes we have dishes that we can only serve for 2 days, then the season is over. Right now, we have wild garlic flowers. These are only available for a week. And it is an essential part of one of our dishes right now, because the flowers are sweet but with a punch of garlic. These are hand-picked by me and my chefs in the field". Pure passion.
Ibiza Food Studio in Africa?
What else can we expect from you? "The dream is to create a finca in the countryside with a cooking academy where I can teach professionals and non-professionals to cook. With a restaurant, a chef's table and an al la carte restaurant. Working closely with the land, growing our own vegetables and a few rooms where people can stay for shorter or longer periods. That's the dream". That doesn't seem far away! Will it be in Ibiza? "Maybe! It could also be in Denmark, in the United States, Vietnam. The idea could work anywhere. How about Africa? Africa has been calling me like crazy. I would love to work with the motherland. All food cultures point back to Africa.
Hopefully Boris will stay in Ibiza for a while longer so we can enjoy not only his haute couture gastronomy but also his uplifting energy and many more great stories.
We are proud to let you know that we will be working with Boris and his passionate team! This year, Boris and his amazing top chefs can be booked through us for an unforgettable experience, at home, in your villa! In addition, the Food Studio will host a series of Covered events, and you can be there! Sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date with our upcoming events. This is where you want to be, trust us!