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Based on the amount of cooking shows streaming across all our channels, it’s clear that most people love the chance to peek behind the scenes of a professional kitchen. Whether it’s the fast-paced (but fictional) adrenaline of The Bear or Boiling Point, the real-life chaos and drama of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares or the international flavours and flair seen on Chef’s Table, there’s no shortage of shows to watch if you’re a foodie. The question is – is this a question of art imitating life? We took a deep breath and bravely stepped inside the Pikes Restaurant kitchen to find out…

Queen of the kitchen, and the heart and soul of our daytime dream team, Tess Prince welcomes us with her characteristic huge smile and a hug. Often described as a pocket rocket, the pint-sized chef is always brimming with positive energy and is like a mother hen to her kitchen flock. When she starts telling us about the stories behind her team’s journey to chef-dom, her eyes well up with genuine tears. “They are just my life!” she says. “I saw something in each of them individually. I taught them all how to do their jobs from scratch and gave them, the chance to shine. The love in our kitchen is strong – they really feed my soul.”

Tess’s passion for promoting from within, her enthusiasm for sharing her gift with anyone who can pick a knife (“Seriously – anyone can learn!”) and her ability to see people’s potential is the stuff of reality TV dreams. Take note, all you savvy television producers out there! The team behind our breakfasts and Love Food Ibiza lunch menus haven’t come to Pikes fresh off a stint in a MICHELIN-starred kitchen – rather, each one is a hard-working star who started at the bottom and had the desire to learn and do more. “It’s like the kitchen disco in here,” says Tess. “You just want to get involved!”

To quote TV chef Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto of The Bear when recruiting kitchen staff: “We’re gonna have to find people that want to learn, which is gonna be impossible. But it’s even more difficult to teach people how to give a shit.” Building a team from the ground up is Tess’s other superpower (the first, obviously, being her culinary prowess!). From a former farm worker and humble kitchen porters to a mother of two and a professional pharmacist, our daytime team have come from far and wide to play a part in the Pikes magic. Crossing paths with Tess seems to have been their destiny, as she spends her days lovingly coaxing the inner chef out of everyone that’s been put to work in her kitchen.

Without any further ado, join us beyond the shiny silver kitchen pass and get to know a little more about the people behind the plates!

Meet Conchi, the head of our lunchtime kitchen team…

“When I met Conchi, she was doing the staff lunches at Pikes,” says Tess of her second in command, and the queen of the kitchen pass, managing every zone, coordinating all the orders and getting plates out to the restaurant on time. “I love her strength and her determination – she’s so reliable, has so much gusto and there’s no one better to be running the kitchen for the day.” For Conchi – who first moved to Ibiza in 1984 from Seville and loves the island for its plethora of clear water beaches – it’s a dream come true to work with Tess and the team. Describing herself as a perfectionist, she draws on her upbringing in Spain’s foodie capital and 17 years of cooking for her own children for inspiration every day. “I just love cooking,” she says. “It makes me so happy when I see people enjoying my food.”

Conchi came to Pikes three years ago, after a stint in the kitchen at Ibiza Rocks and it’s clear she shines under Tess’s guidance. “I love working with Tess and how much confidence she puts in me. It’s funny, the way I don’t speak very much English and Tess doesn’t speak very much Spanish, but we use our mobile phones and Google Translate to communicate, and we understand each other perfectly. We havedifferent styles – I’m from Seville, I like cooking hearty food, whereas Tess is more into vegetarian food, healthy and light – but we respect each other. For example, Tess uses my family recipe for Romescu sauce on the new mushroom balls; I showed her the way we prepare prawns for the salad and she liked it, and she asked me to show her the way I make alioli. We work together to make every dish the best it can be.”

Say hola to José, our super lovely sous chef!

“Quite often in a kitchen, staff turnover is high,” says Tess when asked how she identified our sous chef as one to watch a few years ago. “I noticed him walking around with confidence, so I called him over, gave him and onion and a chopping board and told him I wanted to teach him to cook!” Hailing from Cuba, José had relocated to Ibiza six years ago seeking a better life beneath the Mediterranean sun. He began working at the Quesería Ses Cabretes farm in Ibiza (the place responsible for the creation of what is without a doubt the world’s best goat cheese of the same name), arriving at 5am to milk goats, then head just a little further up the road to Pikes, where he would spend the remainder of his day as a kitchen porter (or a KP, as Tess likes to call them).

“I had no experience at all,” he remembers. “And I watched as Tess gave people like Conchi the chance to become sous chefs and kitchen managers. She started teaching me how to do basic preparation, then how to cook. All of us really come to work here for the love, and for Tess – she’s the best. If she went to another restaurant, I would follow her! I’m so happy to come here every day… we all have so much respect for each other, it’s like family.” Speaking of family: “José’s family in Cuba always call me on Christmas day, and I’m often in touch with his mum via text,” says Tess. Today, José is a big fan of cooking (and eating) the heartier dishes on the menu, like our burger and shawarma. “I just love cooking,” he says with a cheeky grin. “Though I still don’t like poaching eggs!”

Get to know Fatah, our breakfast chef and the man behind our mise en place…

What began as a simple job as a KP quickly saw our happiest team member, Fatah, go from washing dishes and weighing deliveries to making omelettes and full English brekkies in just two years, along with our daytime mise en place. “I did a José on him,” laughs Tess. “Now, if I want something like beetroot chopped to precision in two-centimetre squares, he’s my man.” It was Fatah’s natural sense of self-assuredness that first drew Tess to the former dishwasher, who hails from the Western Sahara and moved to Ibiza just three years ago, and neither of them have ever looked back. “Once I’ve shown him something once, he can be totally left to his own devices. He’s a natural.”

If you’re staying with us, it’s Fatah behind the hotplates, prepping your breakfasts every day while simultaneously firing up the grills and ovens for the day ahead, and getting the kitchen set up for a full day of service. “I always loved cooking at home,” he says. “It feels like a natural progression to now be cooking at Pikes. My favourite part of the hotel is the kitchen, it feels like home, and I love to learn. I want to learn more and more every day, and upgrade my position every year. It’s so great to be around Tess – she’s such a good person, with amazing energy, even when we don’t totally understand each other’s language.” After work, it’s the freedom, the fun and the lifestyle of Ibiza that Fatah revels in. “I love the people here,” he says. “It’s such a different life.”

Give a warm welcome to Habib, the king of our storeroom and freezer!

Any chef will tell you, organisation is key to a smooth-running kitchen is meticulous, miltary-like organisation. You should be able to rely on muscle memory, to step into a storeroom and reach for whatever ingredient it is you seek, and find it, during a busy service, and here at the Pikes Restaurant, it’s Habib who works in the trenches (so to speak) to guarantee not only precision-like organisation but also utmost quality control. The former pharmacist came from the Western Sahara to Ibiza to be able to provide stable economic support for his family back home, however his qualifications weren’t recognised by the Spanish government. While working on updating his papers, he found himself in the Pikes kitchen and as is the case with Tess, there’s no such thing as ‘can’t cook, won’t cook’ and Habib is living proof.

He credits his profession and training for his, keen eye for expiry dates, excellent organisational skills and attention to detail, which caught Tess’s eye while she was teaching hom how to identify some of her favourite colourful ingredients. “He could instanty spot the difference between pea shoots and micro-cilantro,” she explains. “When staff understand ingredients like that, they’re one step ahead of the realms of becoming a cook. It’s like a puzzle, and Habib keeps our dry-store in perfect order. He can recognise anything at a glance. He also has the perfect job in August – working in the icy freezer!” Habib says that he has found his island family in the kitchen at Pikes. “I love the team, we are all so different but also so close. And Tess – she’s so precious. She’s such a good teacher, she’s sensitive and she has a big heart. She treats everyone like equals.”

And keep your eye on Abdallah, our current KP…

“Abdallah is our newest kitchen porter, and I’ve got him doing salad prep already. I’m also teaching him to make omelettes,” says Tess, thrilled to have discovered her latest protégé. “That’s the first thing a chef learns in culinary school. I want Abdallah to be able to step in if Fatah has a day off. Teamwork is so important. It’s all hands on deck with me. In other kitchens, maybe a pastry chef would come to work and only make pastries, then go home. For us, it’s important that everyone understands and knows each other’s positions, can jump in and help whenever they need to, and respects the journey of the people in their former positions, like Abdallah. Now, I’ve built up a team who have my back, and I have theirs. They’re my life!”

By White Ibiza

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