It’s an island renowned for its super clubs, celebrity hang-outs and famous sunsets, but travel to Ibiza outside ‘party season’ and you’ll discover a laid-back way of life and a thriving food scene, as Savour editor Georga Spottiswood found out
It’s late afternoon and we’re sat in a terrace area of a supermarket drinking café con leche when Sid Shanti pulls up a seat.
The renowned chef and food author is in a flurry of excitement about his new venture, having launched The Ibiza Chili Co.
“In spring 2016 we planted 600 of the world’s rarest chilli plants across two farms in the north of Ibiza, with a view to create a range of authentic Ibiza hot sauces.
“There are no chilli sauces or commercial production of sauces in Ibiza and we felt that it was the perfect opportunity to create a way to use a lot of produce that is currently wasted and is of no use during the off season – as well as a new and exciting product led by island ingredients that would complement the current gastronomic trend both locally and worldwide.”
Sid currently grows four varieties of chilli: Carolina Reaper; Trinidad 7 Pot; Chocolate Douglah and Jigsaw.
“We’re the only people farming these particular plants in the Balearic Islands. We are also expanding our larder of chillies, planting another seven varieties for new sauces in 2018.
“We don’t use any pesticides on our crops, preferring to use one organic farm that adopts beneficial insects to combat pests,” says Sid, a former trance DJ who discovered Ibiza in 1998 after being flown out by the promoters of Manumission – the biggest party at the world’s largest nightclub, Privilege.
Each of his four sauces – which are widely available in stores and restaurants across Ibiza – has a heat and depth of flavour unique to these kinds of plants.
“The Carolina Reaper is rated the hottest chilli in the world by the Guiness book of Records and the Trindad 7 Pot was so named because it easily flavours seven pots of stew – giving the perfect balance of body and heat.”
We take a drive to Sid’s kitchen unit – where the magic happens. Here, lemons are squeezed, tomatoes are chopped, Nisperos are de-seeded, secret spice mixes are blended, chillies are destalked and minced and time is taken to treat all the produce individually.
“We make small batches one at a time so you know that we have taken personal care to ensure every bottle is as it should be: bursting with Balearic flavour, Ibiza freshness and Mediterranean heat,” says Sid.
“The fruits and vegetables we use in our sauce blends are all picked by hand and provided to us by a network of co-operatives and local suppliers.
“Much of the produce we use is organic and up to 76 per cent of ingredients are from Ibiza.
“We champion the Ibiza Nispero and Carob,” adds Sid, who’s also launched a range of chilli chocolates.
Although his sauces can be found across the island, a real coup for him has been the backing of Heart Ibiza, a creative experience venue set up by pioneering chefs Albert and Ferràn Adrià (former head chef at the world’s best restaurant El Bulli) and Guy Laliberté (founder of Cirque du Soleil).
“Heart Ibiza explores what happens when food, music and art collide – and we could not be happier to be part of the mix,” says Sid, who finished his own DJ commitments, packed his chef’s knives, records and Technics 1210s and moved to the island in 1999.
His hot new venture creating the chilli products is a total contrast from the summer months, when Sid spends his time as a celebrity private-hire chef cooking for the likes of Jamie and Jools Oliver and Puff Daddy.
Although his clients are superstars, multimillionaires and tycoons, all hungry for Sid’s sensational style of cooking, what really makes him the go-to guy is his insatiable passion for island produce.
“My whole philosophy is about utilising the produce we have growing here on the island. It’s rife with asparagus, samphire, wild garlic, wild mustard, thyme – there’s an abundance of it growing here,” says Sid.
A celebrity himself on the island, Sid now spends his time hosting exclusive dinner parties and lunch gatherings, and is on a mission to promote Ibiza’s produce and food scene.
He is also the author of Glorious Ibiza Food (& Music) – and is one of my trusted guides during my four-day, whirlwind visit to this soul-stirring island.
What The Celebs Say About Sid
“Great fun guy. Thank you dudey! Great food,” Jamie Oliver
“Thanks for helping us fall in love with this magical island. Your food was just the start,” Thandie Newton
“The best Thai curry in Ibiza and beyond,” Pete Tong
“I will never forget the masterpiece you prepared for us. Fresh, fabulous food,” Joni Sledge
Check out Ibiza Food Studio, The Finca on Facebook to see what DJs and tasting menus are lined up during your visit, or book via ibzfoodstudio.weebly.com
Book Sid Shanti as a private chef, check out his recipes and find out dates for his Shantico events at www.sidshanti.com/en/ To order his sauces, visit: www.ibizachilico.com
Georga flew to Ibiza from London City Airport in March with British Airways. Returning flights from £100. Direct flights also available from Newcastle and Leeds to Ibiza with Jet2.