The Austrian actress Sonja Kirchberger talks to Andreas John about her first anniversary as the owner of the port restaurant Ca´n Punta in Palma’s trendy neighbourhood El Molinar.
Clichés are like chocolate stains. Once you’ve made a mess, you can never get rid of them again. The Austrian actress Sonja Kirchberger can tell you a thing or two about it. The leading part in the erotic thriller ‘Die Venusfalle’ from 1988 was the beginning of her career – and still haunts her. On the other hand: with over 100 movie-, TV- and theatre-productions to date, the native Viennese has become one of the best-known, German-speaking actresses on screen and stage in Europe.
About a year ago the 51-year-old Mallorcan-by-choice took on a completely new role: She became the owner of the port restaurant Ca´n Punta in Palma’s former fishing quarter El Molinar. Time to draw up an interim balance sheet . . .
Are you regretting your decision to become one of many restaurant owners on Mallorca, now that a year has passed?
Not at all. I would always do it again; in spite of the fact that a lot has changed during the past year in Ca´n Punta.
When I took over the location in September 2014, it was a tapas bar. I carried on with the same concept until the end of the season, but was ready to beat a new path this year. Ca´n Punta is now a port restaurant with its very own character. It was important for me to be able to let my creativity shine in this place.
What is the concept behind it?
The cuisine is international. I want to take my guests on a culinary journey. For example, from the Wiener Schnitzel to the Peruvian ceviche. The menu is not very extensive. Small restaurants and large menus do not go well together in my opinion anyway. All dishes are freshly prepared, nothing is cooked for storing.
You offer a lot of dishes without meat. Does this mean a special invitation to vegetarians?
Everybody should feel comfortable here. One of my challenges as a gastronome is to make it possible for vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians, and pescatarians all to sit on the same table – with everybody finding something on the menu that suits his/her taste.
Sounds like it has all gone pretty smoothly . . .
No, it didn’t actually. The change from the tapas bar to a port restaurant was a process which was kind of a shock to many of my loyal customers. Human beings are creatures of habit, so a radical change of concept is hard to accept. However, changes also release new energies. And bring new guests. I have also learned that the maxim ‘Never change a winning team’ does not always apply. Today I would say: ‘Don´t be afraid to change a winning team’.
Let´s be honest: Don´t many clients come to Ca´n Punta because of its famous owner?
Some maybe come because they are curious, but not more than once; if they return it´s definitely because they liked the food. The star of the restaurant is definitely the cuisine. The dishes play the leading parts. And every day is a new staging on a plate. Believe me: Just because of a prominent name you will not be successful as a gastronome.
So you did not become a restaurant owner because you were bored?
Absolutely not. I come from a family where gastronomy has always been important. I, personally, not only cook a lot, I am also a passionate hostess.
What´s your client profile?
Before we changed the concept last March, the restaurant was mainly frequented by German residents and holiday-home-owners. That has changed. Fifty per cent of the clientele are now Spanish, the rest a mixture of Germans, Brits and Scandinavians. You don´t have to dress up either to go to Ca´n Punta. Everybody is welcome, both guests with a small budget, as well as guests looking for discerning, gastronomical cuisine. It´s all about variety.
How important is the wine list for you?
Very important. I offer almost exclusively Spanish and Austrian labels. Next year we will also add selected German and Chilean wines.
The Mallorcan gastronomic scene is rather ‘dynamic’. What does it take on this island to be successful in the long term?
To start with you have to be good at maths . . . many under-estimate the costs. I am still in the set-up phase with my restaurant. As long as I can cover my costs with my income, everything´s fine. And the team is super-important. It has to identify itself 100% with the restaurant and the concept. I am really proud to have such professional and enthusiastic staff.
Do you still have time for performances on stage or screen when you’re so involved in gastronomy?
Ca´n Punta has become an essential part of my life. I still have so many ideas which I would love to implement here. Regarding my work as an actress, I have set myself a limit: two or maximum three productions per year. Soon I will be in front of the camera again for a detective story in Vienna. Other than that I want to spend as much time as possible on Mallorca.