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The orange that fell from the tree – talking Mallorcan cuisine with Guillermo Méndez of El OlivoAugust 2, 2018

Belmond La Residencia in Deià is a haven of luxurious tranquillity that’s the equal of anywhere in the world. But what I love most about the place is the way it retains a certain essential Mallorcanness. Guillermo Méndez, Executive Chef at the hotel’s El Olivo helps bring this quality to mouthwatering life with his Mallorcan cuisine inspired creations.

El Olivo

Housed in an ancient olive press, El Olivo is an architectural delight. Its 17th century fittings contrast perfectly with the modern art on the classic Mallorcan stone walls.

The Mallorcan cuisine inspired dishes created by Guillermo and his team are recognised as among the best, not only among restaurants in Deia but in the whole of Spain. El Olivo is consistently recommended by the Michelin Guide and has been awarded 2 Suns by the Repsol Guide. Its wine list has received an Award of Excellence by the prestigious Wine Spectator.

Introducing Guillermo

Guillermo began his career at just 12 years old, under the watchful eye of Juan Vicens Seguí, owner of the Las Olas restaurant at Port de Soller. He studied at Palma’s Hotel School where he won first prize in the Balearic culinary championships. The following year he came in fourth in the prestigious Spanish national championships.

When he finished his culinary studies, Guillermo returned to Las Olas where he worked for eight years before joining El Olivo. Here, under Michelin-star chef Joseph Sauerschell, Guillermo entered deeper into the world of European cuisine.

Guillermo’s journey into European cuisine has included completing stages at Le Manoir aux Quat’saisons with the legendary Raymond Blanc. Working hand in hand with Philippe Lafargue, he also learned from Alain Ducasse.

He has taken part in several culinary events and experiences at legendary locations that include Belmond Cipriani in Venice, Hotel Ritz in Madrid and Belmond Hotel Maroma in Mexico.

Guillermo Méndez

Despite such culinary adventures in exotic locations, Guillermo always returns to his own roots for comfort and inspiration. His grandmother was his first teacher and he uses as many local ingredients as possible in his creations. Many of the fresh local ingredients he incorporates into his dishes – almonds, citrus fruits, figs, carob, elderberry and fresh herbs – come from the Belmond La Residencia gardens.

How would you describe Mallorcan cuisine, Guillermo?

Mallorcan cuisine consists of simple but flavourful produce. It is influenced by all the different cultures that have left their traces on the island – the Romans, the Carthaginians, the Arabs and so on.

How has Mallorcan cuisine influenced your own cooking?

I have brought the flavours I remember from my home and childhood to the tables of El Olivo but with a more sophisticated touch.

Where would you recommend people shop for the best produce?

I would suggest Mercado Olivar in Palma where you can buy Mallorcan products like olive oil, wine and salts as well as fresh vegetables.

What is in season now?

We’ve finished with fruit like cherries and are now using melons and figs. This is the best time for Mallorcan aubergines, tomatoes and peppers. When it comes to seafood, it’s prawns and lobster – pure luxury!

What are your favourite dishes?

My dishes are like my children. I take special care of the ones most recently created. It’s like when you’re teaching your son or daughter to speak or walk.

The orange that fell from the tree

Could you give the recipe for ‘The orange that fell from the tree’ and tell the story behind it?

The name and the concept of the dessert are based on a time when the government did not give sufficient subsidies to the farmers who consequently didn’t even bother to harvest the oranges due to their low price. That’s how we came up with the name of the orange that fell from the tree. It’s a simple orange parfait in the shape of an orange. The earth it fell on is represented by crumbled almond, pistachio or chocolate cake.

Thank you Guillermo, I can’t wait to try it.

If you’d like to try the Mallorcan cuisine inspired creations of Guillermo Méndez and his team in the cool, atmospheric El Olivo restaurant, I’d suggest the seasonal Extravaganza tasting menu. And if you enjoy wine, you won’t be disappointed. Award-winning El Olivo offers over 400 different choices.

El Olivo is just one of several excellent places to eat and drink in and around Deià. Read our insiders guide here.

Coming up at Belmond La Residencia in August

Exhibition of the work of engraver artist Joan Barbarà at Sa Tafona from 3 – 28 August.

Hamlet performed by Morgana Teatre on the lawn, Wednesday 8 and 15 August at 9.30pm. Free entry but a voluntary donation to a good cause will be appreciated.

To reserve your ticket call 971 639 011 or email hanna.bornebusch@belmond.com

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