Alejandro Bermudez Leguina: Somewhat of craziness is necessary for a successful chef

In today’s sharing, Alejandro Bermudez Leguina, Executive Chef at Kimpton Aysla Mallorca, will share intriguing memories with readers as we continue our series of interviews with renowned chefs. With great pleasure, Wanderlust Tips USA shares this thought-provoking piece with you in an attempt to provide you with a range of colourful and multifaceted viewpoints on the restaurant business.

Beyond its luxurious boutique atmosphere and stunning native gardens bathed in Mallorcan light, Kimpton Aysla Mallorca boasts a unique blend of active leisure and utter relaxation. This 5-star haven is not just about indulging in spa treatments and poolside lounging, it fosters a progressive take on wellness. Chef Alejandro Bermudez Leguina has dedicated his professional life to cuisine here as well. Numerous traditional, sophisticated, and opulent dinners that are associated with his accomplishments have been created.

It is especially for those who are passionate about culinary or young people who aspire to become famous chefs, but chef Alejandro Bermudez Leguina will offer readers enlightening and informative material. Let’s explore this chef’s background and the ideas he hopes to get across.

Good morning, Alejandro Bermudez Leguina. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Good morning! I’m Alejandro Bermudez Leguina, a Spanish chef born in Madrid in 1987. My culinary journey is deeply rooted in my multicultural background. My passion for cooking stems from my family, especially my grandparents. I have also had the privilege of living and working in diverse culinary environments, including for almost 2 years in New Zealand and 11 years in South Korea. Currently, I am serving as the Executive Chef at Kimpton Aysla Mallorca 5*GL, the first resort of Kimpton in  Europe, overseeing all the culinary departments and outlets of the hotel, Zayt Restaurant, Deli & Pool bar, SABA bar & SABA restaurant, our signature Korean-inspired restaurant.

What inspires you to be a chef and the opportunity to work at Kimpton Aysla Mallorca?

What inspires me is the desire to provide people with an experience they can fondly remember. I believe we are not in the business of selling food or rooms; we sell experiences. My motivation is always to strive to do it better than the day before. 

How did Kimpton Aysla Mallorca attract you? 

The opportunity to work at Kimpton Aysla Mallorca came from Chef Edward Kwon, who introduced me to the project back in 2021. The project was exciting and intriguing due to the fusion of Korean and Mediterranean cuisine at SABA restaurant. The challenge of combining these diverse culinary traditions and creating a unique dining experience captivated my interest. Kimpton’s commitment to culinary excellence, and I appreciate that they always focus on a standalone restaurant concept rather than just another hotel restaurant.

What highlights from your working experience are most relevant for this current position?

My experience working in Korea, collaborating with chefs like Edward Kwon, has honed my ability to seamlessly integrate various culinary elements. This proficiency directly aligns with Kimpton Aysla Mallorca’s vision of creating a culinary bridge between Asia and Spain. It is this alignment that gives me confidence in my role of Executive Chef at Kimpton Aysla Mallorca.

What is the greatest experience while you are working in the professional restaurant at Kimpton Aysla Mallorca? 

One of the greatest experiences at Kimpton Aysla Mallorca has been the positive response to our dishes at SABA. A memorable instance was being included in the Transfer Class Guide by Chefs(in) among the best restaurants of the Balearic Islands just a few months after opening. 

How would you describe your personal cooking style within 3 words? 

My style in three words: simple, authentic, straightforward. Quoting chef Artur Martinez “prefiero la sencillez reflexionada a la complejidad forzada” which means “thoughtful simplicity over forced complexity” with these words he defined exactly how I want my cooking style to be simplicity with deep reflexion behind of what I’m serving. 

Can you provide an example of a time when you had to create a new dish on short notice?

At SABA, we constantly create dishes on short notice for repeat customers or due to allergens. One of my favourites was a fake ceviche that I improvised by infusing watermelon with ponzu and kimchi marinade, creating a ceviche look-alike vegetarian dish.

Which ingredients do you love to create the most delicious dishes at Kimpton Aysla Mallorca? Tell me about the inspiration for those?

I love working with any fresh, seasonal ingredients that showcase the best of both Korean and Mediterranean flavours. The inspiration behind these choices comes from my background and a desire to offer guests a culinary journey that reflects my experiences and connect them with Mallorca somehow. However, this isn’t always the case. For example, lately, I am obsessed with creating dishes with eggplant for no specific reason. I just saw an eggplant in a market one day, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Until I do something with it, the itchiness in my brain won’t stop.

How do you stay current with culinary trends and techniques? Describe your experience with various cooking techniques, such as grilling, sautéing, and baking at Kimpton Aysla Mallorca?

Staying current with culinary trends involves continuous learning and experimentation. I regularly attend both online and in-person courses, for example I just came back from Madrid Fusión and next week I am going to HORECA Mallorca. Although I don’t collaborate with other chefs as much as I would like, I am actively working on improving that aspect. At Kimpton Aysla Mallorca, we employ a variety of cooking techniques, ranging from traditional Asian fermentations to Western charcoal grilling. Additionally, we embrace what some still consider “modern” methods, such as sous vide, foams, and airs.

Our goal is to ensure that each dish is a harmonious blend of innovation and tradition, prioritising simplicity and flavour above all.

Who are some of your culinary influences? 

While many people might expect me to mention giants such as Ferràn Adrià, Martín Berasategui, or Nobu Matsuhisa, my culinary influences are mainly rooted in my family and the people I have worked with. Chef Tony Jang (@cheftjang) for instance, gave me my first chance in Korea and opened my eyes to what American cuisine entails. Chef Park-Jin-Uk (@deetruekitchen.jeju) who worked under me as sous chef, taught me humility. Chef Edward Kwon (@chef_edward_kwon) significantly impacted my approach to leadership  and the way I approach working in a kitchen. Last but not least Chef Manuel Manzano (@cheffmanu14) taught me the basics and gave me the chance that allowed me to grow into what I am now.

How do you ensure that all dishes leaving the kitchen meet your standards for quality and presentation?

To ensure consistency I emphasise attention to detail and adherence to standardised procedures. Regular tastings play a crucial role in maintaining these high standards.

What role does seasonality play in your menu planning? What is the most important feature that dishes of Kimpton Aysla Mallorca focus on?

I prioritise the use of local ingredients as much as possible to create dishes that showcase each season. In IHG we try to take an approach that aligns with sustainability. 

What is the most important feature that dishes of Kimpton Aysla Mallorca focus on?

The most essential feature of our dishes is the harmonious blend of Korean and Mediterranean culinary elements, delivering a distinctive and memorable dining experience that hopefully sets us apart. 

How do you ensure consistency in the taste and presentation of dishes at Kimpton Aysla Mallorca?

Consistency is a challenge, particularly with the shortage of staff, and paramount in the culinary world. At SABA and Kimpton Aysla Mallorca, we achieve this through a meticulous approach. We have standardised recipes and SOPs, conduct training sessions for our kitchen and front of the house team, and hold continuous meetings. Additionally, I personally oversee the service as often as possible to ensure that the quality aligns with our standards. This attention to detail is crucial in delivering a consistently exceptional dining experience.

Have you ever dealt with menu development? What is the future plan for Kimpton Aysla Mallorca to reach the restaurant target diners?

Yes, I’ve been actively involved in menu development. At Kimpton Aysla Mallorca, our future revolves around engaging our target diners through innovative menu offerings that can be enjoyed by everyone. SABA is our main restaurant, but we also have a Tapas Bar, a Mediterranean restaurant, deli & pool bar, and we offer banquets, business menus, and coffee breaks. We aim to provide enough variety to our guests, so they don’t need to look elsewhere. To achieve this, we introduce seasonal specials, collaborate with local producers, and explore unique culinary events to create a dynamic dining experience. By staying attuned to evolving culinary trends and listening to guest feedback, we aspire to exceed the expectations of our target diners and establish Kimpton Aysla Mallorca as a culinary destination.

What qualities do you believe are essential for success as a chef? 

Success as a chef requires a combination of passion, creativity, resilience, leadership, and a little bit (or a lot) of craziness. Attention to detail, a commitment to continuous learning, and effective communication are also crucial. 

Do you have any advice for those who want to work at Kimpton Aysla Mallorca?

For those aspiring to work at Kimpton Aysla Mallorca, I would advise cultivating a strong work ethic, embracing a collaborative spirit, and being open to the diverse culinary influences. Dedication to excellence and a genuine love for the craft will undoubtedly contribute to a rewarding and successful career at our establishment.

All of them are the insights that chef Alejandro Bermudez Leguina intends to share with readers, particularly those who aspire to work as cooks at Kimpton Aysla Mallorca. 

Keep an eye out for our next interview series articles, which will feature updates on globe travel and exceptional food.

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