Born in Hannover, Germany in 1968, Jan René Brack spent his childhood in South America where he learnt all about Creole and Nikkei cuisines. He then graduated in Culinary Art in the United States of America and started his career as a head chef in a number of globally renowned hotel groups and cruise lines including Oceania Cruises.
He has worked across the globe, from Perù to the United Kingdom and Paraguay to Spain and he joined Zafiro Hotels in 2019. Next year, he will take on the role of head chef of Zafiro Palace Andratx, the new all-suite luxury resort of the portfolio, opening in spring 2021.
A specialist fusion cuisine chef, he is fascinated by the Asian and ethnic influences you can find in the South American culinary tradition, and his personal food and beverage offering at Zafiro Hotels fuses exciting touches of Latin cuisine with Spanish tradition and local ingredients. For Jan, “being the vital part of a culinary team” has always been his personal goal and he could not imagine himself outside the kitchen. We spoke with the chef about all things food.
When did you start working with Zafiro Hotels?
I started working with Zafiro Hotels in August 2019 and it was love at first sight. The team in Mallorca is really friendly and I immediately felt at home here.
You brought to Zafiro Hotels the trendy Nikkei Cuisine (very popular in London and UK). What’s the signature dish you’re proposing at Zafiro Palace Alcùdia?
Yes, the complete Nikkei Cuisine offering will be at the new Zafiro Palace Andratx. At Zafiro Palace Alcudia I’ve already brought some Nikkei dishes, like the red tuna tiradito. It’s a fresh, light dish perfect for the Summer.
The red tuna is marinated with a dressing made with ginger, lime and soy and accompanied by green onions and pickled red ginger. We do have salmon or Mediterranean seabass versions too.
What do you take into consideration when thinking of the menus/dishes at Zafiro Hotels?
Our gastronomy offering revolves around local produce, seasonal ingredients and the island’s culinary traditions. Therefore, I take into consideration every piece of advice and suggestion from the local farmers: they know better!
What is it that Zafiro Hotels guests appreciate the most of your cuisine?
How fresh and respectful of the local tradition it is.
What or who inspired you to become a chef?
Growing up my family has taught me how important the role of food is in one’s life. Everyone in my family loves good food. I spent part of my life along the pacific coast in Perú, where the culinary tradition is so ancient, various and deep, that it inspires me still today and it will forever.
What is your background and does it influence the menu at all?
My background is pretty singular and quite a mix! I am a German, but I grew up in Perú and spent the last 20 years living and working in Spain. I make the most of the various places and culture I had the chance to know and this is reflected in my cuisine.
Do you have a favourite time of year or set of seasonal ingredients that you look forward to working with?
For sure during summer Mallorca’s vegetation is at its best. There are tons of fresh fruits and vegetables I can’t wait to use in my dishes.
What is your favourite ingredient from Mallorca?
This is a hard question. The island is full of native ingredients such as olives and lemons. Local fish and meat are also great. Also, bakery is an art here in Mallorca, the bread is fantastic.
What would you do if you weren’t a chef?
Honestly, I can’t imagine not being in the kitchen!
What is your favourite Mallorcan dish?
Frito Mallorquín is an extremely delicious fried meat and vegetable dish. Usually it’s prepared with lamb, onions, potatoes, red peppers. A lighter alternative which I love is the one with only meat and fresh fennel.
When you’re not in the kitchen where can you be found?
Not sure about the physical place, but as soon as I finish working, I love to spend time with my family.
What’s your favourite takeaway or comfort food?
A great Peruvian beef sauté with fresh white rice or fried rice. An alternative is a simple but delicious fried chicken with Indonesian sambal.