JAIME CÁCERES is the co-owner and manager of restaurant Don de Gentes and previously was director of Marc Fosh Restaurants, in Palma. He’s personable, well educated, and his professionalism is obvious to any diner who observes him at work (as I have done). He speaks Spanish, French, and English, and understands a little Italian, German and Swedish too; useful skills in the restaurant business on a cosmopolitan island like Mallorca.
I caught up with Jaime to find out more about him – asking him first where he was born.
“By chance, in New York, in 1965. My father was representing the Peruvian government in front of the United Nations. I spent two weeks there and then I was brought to Lima in Peru, where I grew up with my grandparents until I finished school.”
What was your upbringing like?
“My father was the youngest career diplomat to reach the category of ambassador, and worked representing Peru in places like Liverpool, Caracas, Argel, Tunis, Paris and Havana. The little time I used to spend with him, I had the opportunity to meet people like Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein. Thanks to his career, I have visited various countries with different cultures which has helped me to improve my approach to people and have empathy with them – very important in the hospitality business. I also spent three years in boarding school in Lausanne and can highly recommend it.”
How did you come to be on Mallorca?
“The last post of my dad was as a roving ambassador in Tunisia and Algiers and I was learning English in Windsor (England). He used to visit the island regularly with my grandmother and her sister, until one day he decided to buy two apartments and we moved here.”
Where did you work before you were in your previous role, at Marc Fosh Restaurants?
“During my law and tourism studies, I had to earn some extra money so I started as a busboy at a pizzeria in Cala Mayor and, despite how hard it was, I began to like this kind of business. I was accepted as a waiter at the Hotel Valparaiso, then became maître d’ in Chopin Restaurant, Palma. Next I went to Reads Hotel with Marc Fosh, where we gained the Michelin star. I have also worked in the Valldemossa Hotel, Hotel Son Brull, Mood Beach in Puerto Portals and I also had my own Peruvian restaurant before the boom of Peruvian food.”
And the most challenging aspect of running a restaurant?
“In recent times the most difficult task concerns the staff and day-to-day running of the business. It has become very complicated to inculcate them with the importance of learning about cheeses, gastronomy, wines, etc. The most challenging aspect could be to show them that what they do is hard but very much appreciated at the end of the day.”
What gives you the greatest satisfaction in your work?
“Undoubtedly the best prize at the end of the day is knowing that you have given everything and everything went well, with the joint effort of the kitchen, front house and back office.”
There must be some personal qualities required in both diplomats and restaurant directors. Do you ever wish you had followed your father’s career path?
“I don’t know exactly the reason, but my father never wanted me to. Nevertheless I think there are some common points in both jobs, especially regarding responsibility. I am a person who really cares about details, has a good eye with clients and sees very clearly where the problems may come, then faces them with the greatest possible diplomacy. I don’t like confrontations and I think there is nothing more satisfying than when a costumer leaves your establishment and tells you that the experience has been unparalleled.”