There’s a flurry of excitement behind the scenes at Pamelas right now – not only because we’re trying, testing and tasting the new season menu, but also due to the fact we’ve welcomed revered British chef Tim Payne to the Pikes family.
He might be a new face in our little kitchen, but it’s highly likely you’ve seen Tim before. An alumni of celeb chef Marco Pierre White, he’s spent much of his 36-year career in Michelin-starred kitchens, appeared alongside his mentor on ITV’s Hell’s Kitchen and independently cemented his reputation as one of the UK’s top chefs through a stint at iconic gastropub Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green among other places around the world.
Despite his culinary pedigree, Tim is one of the most humble chefs you’ll ever meet in Ibiza. He moved to the island around six years ago – coincidentally on the recommendation of a local pig farmer who’d been good friends with Tony Pike and still vividly recalled the party scene in the 70s and 80s – in search of pastures new, pardon the pun. A keen clubber, he’d been visiting the island since the 90s and was regularly enlisted to cook for DJs like Sasha and Carl Cox over the years. He knew the island was beautiful, the local produce exceptional and so he decided to pitch up in the countryside and see what opportunities came up.
At the same time, Carl Cox was involved in the opening of a (now-defunct) beach restaurant on Playa d’en Bossa called Sands, and the timing was serendipitous. Tim took the reins of the seaside kitchen for a few years, before swapping coasts for the west side, stepping into the kitchen at Savannah followed by a few years in the heart of the campo at Can Mimosa – a haven for British expats – until kismet struck once again and he was offered the hallowed denim apron of Pamelas at Pikes in 2022.
By now, you’ve probably deduced (correctly!) that our dear friend and former head chef Lee Milne has flown the Pikes coop after an amazing six years at the helm of our restaurant, moving on to achieve the goal of opening his very own restaurant. It goes without saying that we’ll miss him greatly, and we’re very grateful to have had the experience of working together, not to mention enjoying his mouth-wateringly good food over the years. We wish Lee great success with the next stage of his culinary career in Ibiza – which we also can’t wait to sample as soon as the venue is open.
That being said, change also brings opportunity and we’re super excited that Tim will be helming our kitchen this summer. Lovers of Pamelas, fear not – old favourites like the decadent prawn cocktail will still make an appearance on the menu, and of course, we’ll continue serving up our world-famous Sunday roasts with all the trimmings in the manner to which you are accustomed! Yes, there will still be Yorkshires and gravy all round…
For Tim – who hails from East Lancashire and has been passionate about food and cooking since his parents took him on a trip to France at the tender age of 10 (“It’s where we found wine and cheese,’ he recalls, also citing his mother’s experimental nature with cooking as an early inspiration) – this season is all about getting to know Pikes. “Lee’s done an amazing job at building up the reputation of the restaurant at Pikes,” he says of his predecessor. “We already know the people who come here enjoy the food a lot. So now, my job is to uphold the standards, see how the whole place functions, and make sure the guests are happy when they leave. It reminds me of The Paradise in a way, because we had so much going on all around us – events during the day and night, bands upstairs, a shop every few months… we’ll see what happens!”
Tim describes his own style in the kitchen as very level-headed, realistic and precise. And while he may have swapped Michelin high-flying for a more laid-back Balearic lifestyle, Tim’s mindset remains consistent with his high-level training and expertise. “It’s always about the customers,” he says proudly. “It’s about serving the guests to the best of your ability, and meeting or exceeding their expectations. Wherever you are, even at the top of hotels and restaurants, you should always aim to improve, no matter how successful it already is – whether you’re at Pikes, McDonald’s or a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, it should be the same. It’s like a building block that never stops.”
Until the restaurant reopens this weekend, Tim is staying tight-lipped on new menu additions but we can reveal that he’ll be focusing on locality and using as much Ibicencan and Spanish produce as possible, while adding in some international flavours and flair. “The quality of the vegetables here is fantastic,” he says, before going into a lengthy spiel on the wonders of local lettuce, potatoes and lemons among other Mediterranean veggies. “And there are so many of them – the challenge is using them all.” Additionally, chicken and pork will come direct from island farms where possible while seafood is sourced according to freshness.
Just a few of the dishes that have been sampled in the test kitchen so far include tasty octopus pintxos with an Ecuadorian chili sauce, braised pork cheeks with monkfish – a unique twist on surf and turf – and a very tasty chicken Kiev, a dish that’s trending on menus worldwide in solidarity with Ukraine. There’s been caramelised fish curry with saffron, lush lobster tacos, deep fried oysters with tartare sauce and lots of shellfish (Tim’s personal favourite ingredient to cook) like scallops, clams, mussels, langoustines and juicy red prawns. The nightly pizza menu has also had a revamp under Tim’s guidance – with some carefully curated new additions including crispy duck and watercress, or the Pages (Catalan for countryside) pizza made with island-made Mozzarella, Mahon cheese, sobrasada and butifarra (local sausages).
You can expect to meet Tim in person when you next pass by Pamelas at Pikes, as he’s always been known to meander through his restaurants to say hello to guests and ask how their experience has been over the course of the night. “People come to the hotel and they need to be fed,” he states matter-of-factly. “Inspiration can be endless, but the main thing is: does the food taste good? It can look a million dollars but if it tastes rubbish, what’s the point? When it’s good, people will remember and say that guy knows how to cook!” Suffice to say, the proof will be in the Pamelas pudding.