Cooking in Motion in Ibiza with chef Sebastián Mazzola
You don’t have go far in search of great food in Ibiza. But every once in a while, there is a chef who stands out from the crowd. Meet Sebastián Mazzola from Cooking in Motion.
For the people who don’t know you yet, please introduce yourself and share with us what you do.
Argentinean born, but ever since I was young my dreams and desire to travel and move around have made me a citizen of the world; something I realized through cooking.I started at the age of 17 travelling and cooking my way through most of Argentina, continuing to Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Mexico and the States before I arrived in Spain in 2007.
I worked a season at El Bulli and I went to Denmark for a year to learn about the Nordic cuisine.In 2011 I started to work with Albert Adriá in Barcelona just after the opening of 41°. During 2012 and 2013 I was the Creative Director creating new dishes and menus for 41°, Tickets and Pakta. Right now I’m running a company called Cooking in Motion together with my partner Sussie Villarico. It’s a project that allows us to combine the things we love and appreciate most; to cook, share and explore the world around us. We create gastronomic concepts, do restaurant consulting and participate in events and ‘pop-ups’ around the globe. During 2014 we travelled and cooked in 10 different countries including Peru, Mexico, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Japan, France, Belgium, Germany and Spain.
You have received a million questions about El Bulli and your role there. What did your period with El Bulli teach you?
From a guest point-of-view everyone knows El Bulli as one of the best and most creative restaurants in the world. In my view, being a chef, I consider El Bulli like a University, where I went to learn through the work I did there.
I learned to understand food in a different way. To think the concept behind the food and with this understand the best way to present it to the guest.
I learned that not everything is written about how to cook and that each person through their history, experiences and ways to see the world can express himself differently through his food. To know this keeps you in a constant search of different ways to approach food and express yourself.
There are a lot of great chefs in the world. Who are your favourites and why?
From the Nordic countries I can name Rene Redzepi because he created a path for many to follow; a path that relates the chef to the environment. Torsten Vildgaard and Søren West behind the concept Enspire and restaurant Studio, because they are great leaders and really creative chefs with a unique style. Rasmus Kofoed from restaurant Geranium because I envy his perfectionism.
In Peru Diego Muñoz and Virgilio Martinez are leading the food culture to a new and higher level with their knowledge of modern techniques but also through the research of the culture and ingredients of an amazingly rich country. Also Gaston Acurio because he has given a new hope and inspiration to the Peruvian people by promoting the Peruvian food culture in a way that makes all Peruvians feel very proud. I also admire Roy Choy and Jamie Oliver for their fight to make better food for the ones who need it more.
You are capable of creating magical dishes. What is by far the craziest dish you ever made?
Thanks for the compliment. It’s really hard to pick one as the craziest but I can mention a couple that play with people’s imagination:
In 41° I got the idea to make an edible cocoon. A cocoon that I made of a gel of blackberries and covered with an elderberry marshmallow, jellified into a cocoon shape. The cocoon was served hanging on a wooden branch from where the guest had to eat/bite it directly. I have also created a false octopus tentacle, which is made from rice cooked in purple corn stock. Afterwards I add tapioca pearls to the purple rice paste and fry it. It really looks like small octopus tentacles.
Is this a cocoon or not…?
Cooking is a creative process. What or who inspires you?
I live my life through cooking, so my creative process and inspiration are constantly there. Reading about food cultures, I get intrigued. I dream a lot about food and it’s actually often in my dreams that I come up with ideas that later end up as a real dish.
I also like to transfer a different cooking technique that is normally used for a particular ingredient to other ingredients that you normally wouldn’t think of cooking in that way. Sometimes it can generate something new and unique. Other times it doesn’t work at all, but you always learn something.
I get really inspired by nature, I always feel it talking to me; rocks, branches, leaves, sand, earth, flowers.
Ibiza is home to a lot of great restaurants. You are going to start a great project in Ibiza, can we have a bit of a sneak preview?
Only time will tell how my love story with Ibiza develops. The only thing I can say for the moment is that my intention is to discover the island and make use of all the amazing things it has to offer. And luckily my good friend and colleague Sid Shanti who knows the island better than anyone is always around to teach me something new and special.
How can you describe your cooking style the best?
‘Under construction’. As a chef I always adapt my cooking style to the situation. It is a constant evolution. Whether I’m making a menu for 40 people in a barely equipped kitchen in Tulum, Mexico or if I’m cooking in Moscow for 200 guests with 12 assistants, I always push my limits to the highest. I need to feel the excitement of pressure knowing that I’m always giving 110%, or if possible 115%.
Pop-up restaurants are a fast growing concept all over the globe. What do you think about the pop-up concept and are you open to do a pop-up in Ibiza?
I think the pop-ups are really cool concepts because they allow chefs that don’t have a regular base restaurant to reach people all around the globe. In many cases it’s something spontaneous that will not be repeated. Many times pop-ups are concepts that put food in a direct relation with artists or musicians.
We were actually planning a pop-up in Ibiza last year, but at the very last minute we got involved in a very big pop-up project in Belgium that lasted all summer and took all our time so unfortunately we couldn’t make it to Ibiza as first planned.
Magic happens in the kitchen
But this year we will for sure be throwing at least a couple of pop-ups in Ibiza!
When we say Ibiza, you say?
Happiness. It think it’s a place where anyone can find happiness. That’s how I feel every time I put my feet on Ibiza. I feel and find happiness in so many places in Ibiza; when driving around the island, walking next to a mountain of salt crystals, smelling the aroma of the orange tree blossoms, a walk in the fields of rosemary, thyme and wild asparagus, putting my face under the water to discover a beautiful blue world or when enjoying amazing music played by really good friends and dancing until only my feet set the limit on when to stop.