Joan Marc, renowned chef in Inca, about dedication and an open kitchen
Joan Marc had been working with famous chefs in great restaurants before he returned to the place where he grew up. His own restaurant in Inca offers a unique and modern interpretation of traditional Mallorcan recipes – refined by creativity and experience. Although Joan Marc considers himself a craftsman rather than an artist his plates often resemble pieces of art. I met him at his restaurant after lunchtime for a coffee and a couple of questions.
If Mallorca were a dish – what would be on my plate?
For sure, it wouldn’t be just one dish but a whole menu. Mallorca is only a small island but it has mountains and plaines, a broad variety of agriculture and the Mediterranean that surrounds us. We have four real seasons and with every season come different fruit and vegetables, meat and fish. So we can offer a different menu with local produce every month.
You grew up here, when did you know that you wanted to become a chef?
Oh, that was a long time ago. I wasn’t such a good student and always wanted to do something more practical, more creative, like a carpenter or a mason. When a friend told me about a new school in Palma where you could learn to cook I was really excited. And I was very happy that my parents supported me. My mother cooked for our family but I had no experience myself and no idea of what gastronomy was all about. So I discovered a completely new world.
You’ve been exploring this new world for quite a while, now. Where do you find your inspiration?
Looking back onto more than 20 years of cooking I often draw ideas from my own experience. I worked with chefs from Britain, France and Catalonia and I opened my own restaurant seven years ago. Of course, the way of cooking has radically changed in the last decade or so because our lifestyles are so much different, today. Most of us don’t work in the fields or factories anymore so we also eat differently. Many people care about a light and healthy diet.
There are many regulars among your guests. Is there a certain dish that they fancy?
When you come to my restaurant, you are looking for a special experience. Sure, it’s the food you come for but the atmosphere, the service and your own mind-set are just as important. And it’s the same for me, when I compose the menu: Every course is equally important to me. Whether it’s the potatoes, the soup, or the meat, they all deserve the same care and respect.
In fact that is something you recognise as a guest. What’s it like to work in an open kitchen?
For me and my team the open kitchen is wonderful, we are much more in touch with our guests. And they like it, too. Often they ask us whether they can watch more closely for a few moments. Sometimes they ask for the menu or a recipe. And unless we are really busy we can see how they appreciate their meal. There’s no better way to get feed-back. We also have a window looking out onto the plaça so we keep in touch with the world outside. Passers-by have a curious look inside and wave ‚hola‘.
Apart from Inca, what is your favorite place on the island?
I love Banyalbufar, it’s such a quiet and peaceful place. And it has spectacular sea- and mountain views. Sometimes, I walk the old cami des correu from Esporles to Banyalbufar with my family and we have lunch at a small bar there. For us, that’s a perfect getaway.
And at home, who does the cooking in a chef’s private kitchen?
To be honest, we don’t cook a lot at home, my personal favorite there is pamb oli. Fortunately, my mother and my wife’s mother live nearby and they often cook for us.