‘I have created DINS to keep growing and cause happiness’
He inaugurated the restaurant which bears his name more than 13 years ago and in 2016 he created a new restaurant, Dins: a new adventure in search of personal growth and happiness. Santi Taura (Lloseta, 1976) has been, with his recipes rescued from oblivion, one of the protagonists of the last edition of Madrid Fusion. He was introduced by Matoses and had a conversation with José Carlos Capel, food critic of El País and president of Madrid Fusion, who showed his emotion at the dishes of Dins.
What has taken you to this look back to the past?
Santi Taura: When we inaugurated the restaurant Santi Taura it was already clear to me that my cuisine had to be related to Majorca. I already believed in the potential of our recipe book and gastronomic history, but there was something which confirmed it to me: during a meal with some friends, somebody said that there is no gastronomy in Majorca… Do you mean there is no gastronomic tradition? That’s nonsense! The international cuisine is really interesting, but being a Majorcan chef I have to defend local cuisine; I feel responsible for this culture and gastronomic legacy, and this is what inspired this research work.
These days a wine cellar is a visual experience. Are we carried away by a label or are we starting to know more about wine? Does this bid take shape in the Dins project?
S.T. We have always been working along these lines, but in Santi Taura it was impossible to carry out such a radical project: we offer a menu which changes every week —we have not repeated a menu in thirteen years—, with a very good quality price ratio. In fact, the system of the restaurant Santi Taura can be hardly reproduced in another setting, as the only way for it to be operational and profitable is that it is full every day. That is why I decided to create Dins in the old nearby carpenter’s workshop, where we do everything we have not been able to do in Santi Taura: most of the ingredients are Majorcan —like ‘raors, ‘jonquillo’ or the red prawn— and all the recipes have historical references. I have more price flexibility and more freedom to work with certain Majorcan products which I could not offer in a 40€ menu due to their price or exclusivity. We have to keep in mind that the Majorcan product is highly exclusive. For example, I may get shoulder blade of Majorcan kid goat meat for a limited number of people, but not for 300 diners a week.
Your name always comes out in the debate sbout Michelin Stars. Could Dins be the way to achieve it?
S.T. I do not know if we will get the star with DINS, that doesn’t depend on us, it depends on a private company with its own criteria. At DINS we will manage, among other things, to take pressure off restaurant Santi Taura, which has been compared to restaurants with Michelin Star and with a very different price. At DINS we will offer something completely different, which besides has nothing to do with any Michelin Star; we have created something distinct. Those looking for a more exclusive experience will have it: I cook, serve and explain the dishes… always with the help of my team, nothing would be possible without them. It is a very personal and exclusive project. Diners eat in my kitchen; all the recipes or ingredients appear in manuscripts or recipe books of the islands, and a ninety per cent of the products are km 0.
Which is your concept of creativity, the balance with technique? As a cook, what do you want to be when you grow up?
S.T. Some years ago I read that when John Lennon went to school, he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he said he wanted to be happy. When he was told he hadn’t understood the question, he answered that they hadn’t understood life. What have I done to be happy? I have created Dins… It is not a profitable business, it has been created to provide happiness, to show Majorcan people what we have and they do not know, like red mullet pies or Majorcan stuffed snails. The concept is: if the original recipe is so good and so modern, I reproduce it with small contributions. If I consider it popular, I change the process but always respecting the taste and the soul of the recipe. I want to bring Majorcan cuisine closer to all palates.
Do you think we have abused of the need of inventing?
S.T. There is just one Ferran Adrià, he has made the difference in the history of gastronomy. The problem is that today young cooks put the cart before the horse, and first we need to know the basics by heart. We do not use “molecular” techniques or surprising special effects. I respect those cooks who use them and I am a consumer of these types of restaurants, but I do not have the need to show that cuisine. It is not my style, if you want smoke, there is none here. I think that what we do comes more from the heart and from the surroundings than from a lab and I am convinced that, if we keep working along these lines, we will create something that may be historic for Majorcan cuisine.