What has an Italian mathematician from the 12th century to do with a 39-year-old lawyer from Norway, baking bread in Mallorca? Fibonacci is the answer. Inspired by the most significant computing master of the Middle Ages, Leonardo Fibonacci, the lawyer John Kristiansen from Oslo used the name for his three exclusive café-bakery stores. “The name Fibonacci contains the word ‘bon’, which means good. This fits perfectly,” says Kristiansen, who cannot help smiling.
He would never have imagined that he would one day abandon his job as a legal consultant for a Norwegian company, specialising in the marketing of ADSL Internet connections, to produce ecologically sustainable bread in Mallorca – as well as excellent coffee, and numerous gourmet ingredients such as the finest olive oil, vinegar, spicy dips and spreads. Five years ago he hadn’t even dreamt of this.
“My wife is Mallorcan; we met in Oslo. To give our four children the chance to discover their Spanish roots, in 2005 we decided to stay for half a year on the island,” Kristiansen reveals.
But the boisterous, southern atmosphere inspired the Scandinavians, by then leading a quiet life, to give the whole idea a new twist. “The island and its people were sympathetic to me. In contrast to Norway, where people are more quiet and civilized and continue their daily routine, life on Mallorca is loud, spontaneous and open. I really liked that. Our children loved the loosely-designed education system.” So the family Kristiansen decided to stay on the island.
But how did he get the idea to bake bread in Mallorca? “A bakery was not in my mind at first. In Palma, I missed the so-called bakery-cafés from my home, where you can not only buy bread, but also drink a coffee or eat a piece of cake,” says Kristiansen. But there had to be more reasons. “I knew as much about baking bread as a three-year-old kid might know about nuclear physics.” In order to get into the subject, Kristiansen began to read lots of literature, did research on the Internet – and started to travel.
“I toured across Europe for many months, to track down a possible concept for my business idea,” the Norwegian recalls. In Italy, mainly in the small bakeries, he found what he was looking for: “Small, manageable and charming. This pleased me.” Eighteen months ago he finally opened his first Fibonacci shop in Palma’s picturesque district of Ciudad Jardín. It was followed by two more shops in the neighbourhoods of Portitxol and Santa Catalina.
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Of course, bread plays the main role in all three stores. “I’ve thought about the interplay of water, flour, yeast, wheat. My bread should have a strong taste and it should be made of 100 per cent organically grown ingredients. These were the guidelines,” says Kristiansen.
“In contrast to Spain, where bread is usually served only as a sliced addition, it is a main component of a meal in Northern Europe and Scandinavia. Such bread is missing here in Mallorca.” No wonder then, that he has offered countless variations of fresh, crusty bread, muesli and oat bread, with olives, sunflower seeds, tomato, and even black organic bread, over the years.
The range at Fibonacci stores is not restricted just to bread. Behind the glass display case of the counter there are also delicious filled baguettes, rolls, pies, tarts and other tempting sweets. Another part of the premises is for the exclusive sale of oils, balsamic vinegars, fine liquors, cereal mixes, herbal dips, honey and marmalade. Some of Kristiansen’s goods are branded with the house label Fibonacci. Artificial flavouring agents or other chemical additives won’t be found on the product labels.
“With me, everything is 100 per cent natural,” Kristiansen confirms. The same goes for the coffee. Its powerful and seductive aroma can be appreciated from outside the building. “The coffee is a special thing. Everyone has his own personal favourite flavour. I have been drinking instant coffee for years and found it wonderful. But anyone who has ever tasted a really good roasted coffee, will never drink anything else.” One cup of ‘café con leche’ costs 2.50 euros at Fibonacci. And you can be sure: It actually is addictive.
Is Fibonacci an exclusive business with exclusive prices? “Absolutely not” is Kristiansen’s instant reply. “Of course, our high quality product has its price. Anyone who wants a cheap baguette must go to the supermarket. I’m sure that many people in Palma appreciate very good quality.”
Has he regretted at any point his decision to move to Mallorca? “The casual, Mediterranean lifestyle fits very well with me and my family. The kids are happy. And I enjoy kite-surfing in my spare time, which I would probably find a bit harder in Oslo,” Kristiansen remarks with a smile. However, there are things that he still has to get used to in Mallorca. “Starting a business here is a real adventure and always associated with a bunch of paperwork. The administration is working very slowly; in Norway everything works over the Internet, which makes it a lot easier.”
And plans for the future? “I already sell my products on the Balearic Islands and beyond. In Oslo I have several distribution channels in 15 gourmet shops. I would like to open up Fibonacci shops on the Spanish mainland. For sure I will not stand still, and my ideas continue to flow,” he says.
This is the principle of the world famous Fibonacci Code: an endless series of numbers.
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