Over the last few years, Boris Buono has established himself as one of the figureheads behind the revival of regional food culture here in Ibiza and will be playing a key role within Amorevore, from running guided walks and demonstrations at his Food Studio Finca near San Lorenzo, to talking part in various events at the main festival site.
Having cut his teeth under the auspices of world-famous Noma’s renowned Rene Redzepi, Boris has long had an affinity with the island and, like so many captivated by the energetic allure of the white isle, he found the mysterious magic of Ibiza too attractive and tempting to ignore – ‘it’s difficult to define precisely’, he says. ‘But we all know what it is.’
After a much needed winter break, Boris is back and busier than ever, with exciting plans brewing at both venues, his Dalt Villa Food Studio and the enchanting Finca near San Lorenzo, where we managed to catch up over coffee during a brief moment of respite.
I started by asking Boris about his childhood memories of food…
‘Pizza in Naples,’ he replied, without hesitation. ‘And fresh fish, caught off the Danish coast. My father is Italian and he was so excited by what he found in Denmark. I grew up fishing for fresh clams, mussels and crabs.’
Do you think your father was an inspiration for you becoming a chef?
Yes sure, and my two grandmothers. I think is rare to find a chef who did not have a parent, or a grandparent, who enthused them about food. I had one Italian grandmother and over very cosmopolitan Danish grandmother from Copenhagen, so I grew up amidst a diverse mix of influences. I remember going to eat falafels and hummus in Copenhagen in the 1980s, long before most people I knew had even heard of such things.
What do you love cooking the most – any particular dish, or style of cooking?
I love natural cooking – to cook fish and vegetables, over an open fire for example. That is my favourite kitchen.
If you were stuck on a desert island and had only one fruit or vegetable to work with, what would it be?
It sounds boring, but probably the potato – or the tomato. They are both so versatile. The potatoes in Ibiza are amazing. In fact, one local farmer told me that some of the potato strains here are some of the only ones that survived the phytopthora infestans disease that caused the Irish potato famine and wiped out the potato crop in most of Europe in the mid-nineteenth century. Many of the strains subsequently exported around the rest of Europe came from Ibiza, apparently.
What started you on the road to becoming a chef? Was there a defining ‘eureka’ moment?
Yes there was. I was working part-time in a pizzeria, just as something to do. But I really liked it. Then my friend knew someone opening a restaurant, almost forcibly marched me over there and told me to ask for a job. I knew from the moment I walked into that kitchen that this is what I wanted to do.
What do you think is the single most important action we can take as consumers to promote sustainable and regenerative food and farming systems?
I think it’s deciding to dedicate time to cooking. For example, if a family decided to take a day out every month to go and source their meat or fish from reputable local sources, their fruit and vegetables from local farmers markets, and manage those ingredients properly, then we could avoid using the supermarkets. If it’s the whole family together, or a group of friends, then it doesn’t seem like an irksome task for one person on their own. It becomes fun – and it connects you with the producers of your food. Then you can go home and prepare some meat together, prep some dishes, freeze some for future use, vacuum seal it – or make pates, pickles and other preserves. This becomes an enriching and healing experience, overcoming the atomisation we see in society within our families and communities. Supermarkets are just created for junk food junkies to become more addicted.
Who are your foodie heroes and heroines and why?
My two grandmothers. Then there’s Escoffier of course; and Alain Passard, the three Michelin star vegetable genius in Paris. And of course Rene Redzepi. I was three years at Noma and I owe him a great deal.
How can Ibiza become an exemplar for regenerative ecological farming and self-reliance?
I really believe that this island has the potential to become exactly that. It certainly was at times in the past. I am now working with Jovenes Agricultores, an EU programme to encourage young farmers back to the land. If you present a viable business plan, there are grants there for machinery, salaries and other costs. Ibiza has more people living here and visiting than ever before, but fewer and fewer people farming. We need to get young people farming again. We need to make it sexy to be a farmer again.
Rory Spowers, Amorevore Curator