The Fera restaurant celebrates its 5th birthday. The trendy restaurant has become a permanent fixtureon Mallorca’s gastronomic scene. In this interview, Carinthian chef Simon Petutschnig (44) talks about his favorite products, elegance on the plate and the essence of a dish.
Five years of Fera. A lot has happened during this time: first corona, then staff shortages, now the high food prices. And Fera is still on course for success. How do you do that?
In fact, there was a lot of movement. Corona also gave us time to think at the beginning. And it became even clearer to us that there is only one way: to focus on hospitality and quality.
Even if it comes at a price?
Quality has its price. You have to make a decision: Do you want to offer quality or not? For us, the answer was and is clear: there is nothing other than quality at Fera. Good food has become expensive. That’s right. We have to adjust the prices.
How do the guests react to this?
For this type of cuisine, you really do have to have guests who are prepared to spend the money. And we have them. Our guests are connoisseurs, they appreciate the quality of our cuisine. That is our trademark. It is the be-all and end-all.
5 years of Fera: From new to fully booked ...
That’s no coincidence. You have to work for it. The guests trust us. You know that what we offer is fairly priced. Many guests are very loyal, they come back again and again. Repeat offenders, so to speak (laughs). And there are guests who thank you warmly when you say goodbye – with happy faces. It is a wonderful reward to be able to make people happy and bring them joy. That also does something to the team.
What has changed in your cooking style over the past five years?
I concentrate even more on the product itself and let the product speak for itself. And I might cook less technically, more “old school” again
. Entirely in the tradition of classic French haute cuisine.
“Sauces are the soul of a dish”.
How does this manifest itself?
I completely reorganized the kitchen and created another saucier station. I cook all the sauces, stocks and jus myself. That takes a lot of time. But it’s worth it! Sauces are the soul of a dish.
Has the presentation of your dishes changed?
We have become whiter. We used to have gray, then black, red, green and blue plates. Now we are more in the purist phase. We now have white tablecloths and the crockery is completely white.
Have you become more refined?
We set everything up in white. It has more finesse, more elegance. And the dishes really come into their own. It’s like painting a picture: if you have a white background – and not a blue or green one – you have much more freedom to create something that is also eye-catching in terms of color.
Are there any new trends that you are now following?
Trends? With me, the guests set the trends. I talk to them a lot, I listen to them. What do they like, what do they particularly like? I am more guided by this than by my personal preferences. It makes no sense if I love fish soup but nobody orders it.
What do Fera guests love?
Mallorcan products such as prawns from Sóller or Andratx, for example. But also others such as Gillardeau oysters, Wagyu and Simmental beef or caviar.
“People are enjoying themselves more since the start of the pandemic.”
Has anything changed in this respect in the last five years?
Not when it comes to taste. But my feeling is that people are enjoying themselves more since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
How do you determine that?
We offer a chef’s menu in the evening: in a long and a shorter version. 80% of guests choose the longer – and more expensive – menu! And at lunchtime we now also offer a chef’s menu with exclusive products for 100 euros. Here too, over 50% of guests choose the gourmet version. Even at lunchtime, the motto is: enjoy.
Spending 100 euros on a lunch menu is saying something…
It’s all about enjoyment. And it’s about the price-performance ratio. If that fits, the guests appreciate it. But we also have a small, more affordable gourmet menu and offer a veggie menu. And you can also eat à la carte with us.
Which product fascinates you again and again?
Onions and shallots! A simple product, but so essential and versatile. In purees, soups, sauces, vinaigrettes, beurre blanc, hollandaise sauce …
What is your most important kitchen utensil when cooking?
You need a lot of things to be able to cook professionally. Good knives, slicer – all important. Perhaps the most important is the Thermomix. We have several of them. For cold dishes, sauces, starters, pâtisserie …
“Cooking is my vocation.”
You’ve been cooking since you were 16. Is cooking still your dream job?
I’m lucky that I enjoy my job. It’s not work for me, it’s a vocation. You have to do a job that you do with love, passion and dedication, that excites you. Then you won’t have to work for the rest of your life, they say.
What is your favorite dish at home?
My wife Vanessa’s kitchen! Really nice home cooking. That’s also the reason why we don’t often go out to eat on days off. She spoils me with lasagne, Wiener schnitzel with potato and cucumber salad or Brazilian dishes. And she loves baking. You can also see that in my figure.
Can food make you happy?
Definitely. When it’s something you’re really looking forward to and your mouth is watering. My mother’s Carinthian Kasnudeln and apple strudel in Austria, for example. Or a good burger with home-baked bread. Food must have a soul. It must contain the soul of the person who prepares it. That’s soul food for me.
What does your perfect day on Mallorca look like?
It depends on the mood. A perfect day can be just being at home: having breakfast, going for a swim, snoozing in the sun with Tom the cat, playing the guitar, watching a good movie with my wife. I am grateful and glad that I don’t need much to be happy. Sometimes we drive across the island by car, to Sant Elm or along the coastal road from Andratx to Valldemossa. With good music of course, reggae, electronic music, hip-hop.
Do you still have your Harley?
But yes! I cruise around the island with my wife on the black Harley-Davidson V-Rod Muscle.
C/ de la Concepció, 4
Thursday: 19:00 to 22:00
Friday to Monday: 13:00 to 15:00 and 19:00 to 22:00