Interview with Sid Shanti – Chef, foodie and entrepreneur

One of Ibiza’s most loved characters and private chefs, Sid Shanti arrived in Ibiza in 1998 and loved it so much he never left. Food has been the centre of his life for as long as he can remember. As a primary school kid he convinced the teacher to let him cook a full English breakfast in front of his class and since those days his repertoire has covered a spectrum of cuisines in a career spanning restaurants, private cheffing, event catering and a cookbook inspired by all the memorable meals he has cooked during his years in Ibiza. Sid stopped by for a quick chat about life, eating and his exciting new ventures.

How did you get your start in the food world?
I started from quite a young age. At 17 I worked in professional kitchens peeling vegetables and washing pots for a country wide catering company based in Leeds in the UK.

Where on the island do you live?
I live in a Spanish barrio in the bay of Es Codolar, in the south of the island.
Since 2001 I’ve enjoyed the sun and moon rise and then set either behind mountains or into the ocean depending on the time of year. Migratory flamingos come and go to the salt flats just down the pebble beach and the locals are friendly and authentic to the core!

Tell us a bit about your new venture.
The new venture is an expansion my current business, so continuing to offer private catering services to the many visitors to Ibiza. We started a picnic service, Shanti Picnic (read more about it here: www.shantipicnic.com), which proved extremely popular. We use biodegradable packaging and offer healthy and vibrant food that’s an alternative to the many restaurants that are so busy in the summer. It’s perfect for beach, boat and villa. We source our vegetables from our two island farms and hope to expand year on year.

And we hear you’ve branched out into retail products too?
Yes, we are also creating products utilising island produce. We have a chocolate range coming out for Christmas – think chili chocolate, almond thins, Ibiza salted caramel and Mari Mayans Hierbas Ibicencas liquid centre chocolate truffles! These have been in development for two years and are thankfully now in production. And finally we are growing organic chili plants, some of the hottest in the world, and are aiming to have the first Ibiza chili sauces on the market for 2017. These will contain around 85% ingredients grown on Ibiza.

Will you still be offering private chef services?
For some existing clients and a few new clients. I am focused now on agriculture in Ibiza and creating ways to help this local heritage to grow and flourish.

Which local produce excites you the most when it comes into season and why?
There are many. Wild garlic, asparagus and nisperos all signify the onset of summer. Figs and pomegranates are also firm favourites. Raones when the season begins in September and squid in November.

Other than a knife, which kitchen tool can you not do without?
A chopping board!

What’s your favourite comfort food?
Tuna spaghetti Bolognese.

Any plans for another book?
Yes, I’ve started work on it but sadly it has taken a back seat for the moment.

What do you love most about Ibiza?
The people, climate, tolerance and beauty and distance in spirit that it has from the ‘real’ world.