I’ve been coming to Fosh ever since arriving on the island five years ago and what has always struck me is how owner, chef and holder of a coveted Michelin Star, Marc Fosh, always takes the time to walk around the tables to greet his customers – both new and returning. He stops and chats, thanks each table for choosing the restaurant and moves on with a smile. There are no airs and graces, despite the Michelin Star, as may be expected with some chefs, and it is a breath of fresh air. On the night we visited it was no different. Despite having to prepare the restaurant and team for a full house of diners, Marc took a precious hour out of his busy schedule to come and sit with my fabulous photographer, Anouska, and I, to tell us his story and answer my curious questions.
What we were met with was a quietly spoken, honest man, with a welcoming smile and an infectious laugh. The first to focus that laughter at himself, he tells how it wasn’t being a chef that was in his blood when he was young. No, Marc saw himself, as many young boys do, as a footballer or Rockstar. Seeing as chefs these days often hold a celebrity status akin to a Rockstar, I guess he can tick one of those ambitions off his list. It was only when he started washing-up in a restaurant on weekends, to earn extra money aged 17, that he fell in love with the kitchen and the idea of becoming a chef. For him it was all about the team work at first and then the seamless orchestration of how ingredients are manipulated into dishes of tremendous taste and beauty.
Soon after this he began his journey into the world of gastronomy, working in London in the early 80s and 90s at The Greenhouse and at the Chelsea Room in the Carlton Tower Hotel. He smiles wistfully of how it was incredible back then to be working with such amazing chefs, ingredients and almost limitless budgets. It was a time of indulgence and silly money being spent on the dining room floor, but after ten years of cutting his teeth under some of the most renowned chefs in the world, he felt it was time to move on and find a new challenge. And so, from the bright lights and big city he moved to a tiny village in the Pyrenees. To say it was a shock to the system was an understatement. There was literally nothing to do but work and learn French. Finally giving in after about six weeks Marc asked around the locals to find out what people in the village actually did for fun. They happily informed him that a quick hop over the border to San Sebastian would provide all the entertainment necessary. So, never looking back, he did just that and secured himself a place in Martín Berasategui, owner of eponymous 3 Michelin Starred restaurant Lasarte-Oria’s, first Michelin starred restaurant. Not checking the fine print at first Marc didn’t realise that he was actually working for free, but six months turned into 3 years and thankfully a much earlier salary negotiation.
San Sebastian was a very different place 25 years ago. It was far edgier and there were no tourists, but the culinary scene was already thriving. However, Marc soon came to realise that with ETA still active it was going to be almost impossible for an English chef from Kent to open his own restaurant there and it was time to move along again. He heard of a beautiful new hotel opening in Santa Maria del Cami, Mallorca, and so 23 years ago Marc became Executive Chef at Reads Hotel and began his love affair with the beautiful island of Mallorca. He confesses that it was lonely in the early days as the restaurant at Reads, which was awarded its first Michelin Star under his residency, was really one of a kind back then. Food on the island was rustic and hearty, but more for sustenance than for gastronomic flair, however over the next two decades an influx of international chefs slowly began to come to the island and were charmed by its beauty and exquisite produce, and the gastronomic landscape became closer to what we are familiar with today.
Wind forward several years and in 2009 Marc decided it was time to go out on his own opening Simply Fosh is the stunning Convent de la Missió. The old Convent, built during the seventeenth century for the purpose of educating missionaries is nestled in the heart of Palma’s backstreets, running parallel to Las Ramblas. It is a stunning situation for any restaurant, combining contemporary chic with ancient peace and tranquillity; past and present living symbiotically.
Marc says that when he first opened Simply Fosh, which, despite the name change back in 2016 to Marc Fosh, is still affectionately known as, he wasn’t chasing stars. He wanted the concept to be as its name stated, Simple. Stripped back and casual, where diners could relax in calm surroundings, with solid food, but none of the pretension of what we often associate with a celebrity chef’s restaurant. In the early days there were no white table cloths and sommelier, and diners were encouraged to pour their own wine, sometimes to their own confusion. Locals and visitors flooded to the restaurant in droves, as they still do. However, time and tide wait for no man and slowly Marc has come full circle, having opened several premises in Palma, but, after learning the art of delegation, has returned to make his beloved Fosh his sole purpose. He has continued to innovate and has pushed the restaurant and his team, making subtle changes that have altered its direction.
Whilst the day time, weekly changing menu of three or five courses holds true to the simplicity of Simply Fosh, and is still an absolute steal for €29.50 for three dishes, the evening has now changed and become more complex. Instead of an a la carte menu, which Marc says is not only bad from a food wastage and sustainability standpoint, but also puts too much pressure on his team, there are instead two seven course (ten if you take into account all of the additional treats you are given) tasting menus.
The first is the Marc Fosh, which consisted, at the time we visited, of dishes such as Foie gras “mi-cui” with fresh figs, verjus, oyster leaves & “peix sec” from Formentera; Roasted glazed duck with lavender, fennel puree, fresh peaches and oxalis and Chocolate “Cremoso” with red pepper-raspberry sorbet, tonka bean meringue & “Myrriss odorata”. The second menu is the Menu Natural, a fully vegetarian menu where you can taste the delights of Yellow gazpacho with salt baked beetroot, rosewater & pistachio dukkah; Sa Pobla potato “skins” with confit leeks, smoked onion emulsion & chervil jus with one of the desserts being Slow cooked pineapple with sea buckthorn-honey sorbet & samphire.
Whichever menu you choose, day or night, Marc or Natural, you can be absolutely safe in the knowledge that your taste buds will be in for a delightful time. Each dish is sublimely presented, explained fully by the knowledgeable, multi-lingual team and designed to wow every guest, leaving them in anticipation as to what is coming next. When I looked at the basics of what is a super secretive criterion, for being awarded a Michelin Star, the main points are that every single dish had to be as beautiful as it was appetising, they should be made from fresh, local and seasonal produce, and plated up in a spotless and organised kitchen. The other key point is that the menu had to have personality. The food and the chef behind it have to stand out by serving high-quality dishes that are on the cutting edge of food trends. With these criteria in mind it is not hard to see how Marc and the team were awarded the restaurant’s first star back in February 2015, when I was lucky enough to eat in the newly awarded dining room. The atmosphere that day was one of excitement and joy at preparing and serving world class food, and I’m pleased to say that it was no different three years on. Since that day Marc has gone on to buy a farm that is currently keeping the kitchen full of vegetables and fruits and is launching a new recipe book which they are currently in the process of choosing the dishes for. I can honestly say that whatever the occasion, Marc and his impeccable team will look after your every want and wish, leaving you knowing there is nothing simple about running such an outstanding restaurant, but a complex recipe of love and passion and that infectious sense of humour!
MARC FOSH RESTAURANT OPENING HOURS:
MONDAY TO SUNDAY – 13:00 TO 15:00 AND 19:30 TO 22:00
CALL THEM AT: +34 971 72 01 14
EMAIL THEM AT: firstname.lastname@example.org
FIND THEM AT: Carrer de la Missió, 7A, 07003 Palma de Mallorca, Islas Baleares – España
Review By Victoria Pearce
Photos Credit: Anouska Foss