Arantxa (left) and Bonnie with Oli and Benji. photos: phoenix media mallorca | Phoenix Media Mallorca


I’m on the road today with my husband, Oliver. We’re winding along the road from Palma to Valldemossa, past the souvenir shops, and the tourists browsing. Past the coaches coming and going, past the hire cars, and through the UNESCO world heritage landscape, along the spectacular coast road to the final destination of Deya. Once in the tiny, but well known village, a favoured destination for many British celebrities, designers, artists and musicians, it isn’t a long walk from a parking spot on the outskirts of the village to our location for the day, Restaurant Nama.

We are in high season in Deya, and there are groups of people, dressed in what my husband likes to call “the Deya uniform”: a straw hat and white flowing clothes, wandering around the streets. Bonnie and Arantxa from Nama are waiting for us with big smiles on their faces, with their Shih Tzu dogs Benji and Oli, always close by.

The front of house team at Nama. Photos: Phoenix Media Mallorca

There’s a rope hanging across the doorway, not the plush “red carpet” type of rope, but a rough jute string, with random knots in it. It’s makeshift, but it does its job, controlling Nama’s potential clients at the door and stopping them from entering. I mention the rope to Arantxa, who is in charge of front of house. “We had to put it up”, she tells me, “People were just walking into the restaurant to take photos of the view and walking out again after they had got their photos for Instagram. We even had a newly married couple come in with a photographer who wanted to shoot them with the view! In the middle of our clients’ lunches!”

It isn’t just the beautiful view that Nama is famous for. The restaurant has earned a reputation for excellent South Asian food (and we can concur, it is excellent because during the interview they fed us some extraordinary dishes, but I am not a restaurant reviewer and will leave that pleasure to Mia Naprta for another day) due to the skill and passion of Chef Bonnie (or Bon Bon) and her kitchen team which she has personally trained.

The Nama kitchen team.

“When we interview staff I am more interested in their personality and how they will work in the team than what they can already do. Skills can be learned, but enthusiasm, passion, dedication? These qualities cannot be learned.” The restaurant sector in Mallorca is under intense pressure during the summer season, I say, how do they retain their staff? “We work hard, and we take care of our staff. Some of our front of house staff have been with us since we were in Valencia!”

Let’s rewind a little, and get their story. Bonnie was born in Singapore, and grew up in Australia. “When someone asks me where we are from it’s a difficult question because it feels like we are from everywhere”. She spent a good deal of her childhood by the side of her father, a trained French chef, and opened her first restaurant when she was only eighteen. Bonnie moved to Valencia to be with Arantxa, a qualified vinologist, and they opened the first of many wildly successful restaurants, Appetite. “We broke rules with this restaurant, we had an open kitchen, we didn’t have a printed menu, we had three sittings for dinner, we didn’t allow people to smoke inside. We became a place where famous chefs would come to eat, just to check us out!” It’s safe to say that they know the hospitality trade inside out. It was heady times indeed for the dynamic couple, but a quick break to visit Mallorca changed their lives. We sip Thai iced tea, which is deliciously cool and refreshing without being cloyingly sweet, and talk about their lives on the island, and how the restauraunters need to set new ground rules for clients.

How did you discover Mallorca? “We came to visit Mallorca for a long weekend. We met Ronnie from Dukes in Palma, and Koldo Royo, who have become great friends. We loved the island so much that in three weeks we had bought our first restaurant here. That was 2014 in Santa Catalina, the culinary scene in Mallorca has developed a lot since we arrived, and also in Valencia! “

What was the appeal of Mallorca? BONNIE: “I never felt like Valencia was home. But in Mallorca I felt like I was in Australia. The atmosphere was the same. The first time we arrived by ferry, the first thing we saw was this amazing cathedral, we were really impressed by it.”

How did Nama come about? BONNIE: “We had opened and run several restaurants, and moved permanently to Mallorca when we discovered this place in 2017. We started to work with our business partners to develop it into what it is now. I would say that the menu is a tribute to the food that I had when I was a child. It brings back a lot of happy memories for me. I was once told by a psychic that I would have a restaurant in the mountains, and here we are!” (You can visit their website here

How has the season been so far for you? ARANTXA: “Well, we have discovered that we have to be quite clear with our customers. We have a reservation system on our website where you can book your table, but there is a new feature which we, and other restaurants can use now. You can see when a user has also booked tables at other restaurants on the same day. Last weekend one of our colleagues in Palma was expecting 191 people, and had more than 89 diners not turn up for their reservations!

That’s 89 places that they could have sold to other customers, and a huge loss of earnings.” BONNIE: “And so imagine them turning away so many clients for the night, when you’re in high season having all the problems that we’re having, you expect to have a good night, and then have the restaurant empty, or they don’t get the second turnover. It is heartbreaking because it is so demanding what we do, it is 40 degrees in the kitchen at the moment, everyone is working so hard to offer a good quality and level of food and service. And being in the restaurant business is so tough, super, super tough. It is becoming a huge problem for the island, and visitors just don’t seem to understand how much their actions affect us and other businesses. But we know it is not just here in Mallorca, but international as well. Now with this booking app, if we see that we have clients who have booked in two places on the same day, us and another restaurant, we email them, tell them that they have double-booked themselves and give them the opportunity to cancel their booking. And now we ask for a deposit when we take a reservation. Hopefully this will reduce the problem for restaurants in Mallorca.”

You have started to branch out and offer consultancy for other restaurants on the island?
BONNIE: “So this year, with more time now, I really want to focus more on helping business and doing consulting, which I’ve started doing with the Five Senses group and we have recently opened Canela, and doing pop ups helping businesses out to let them see from my point of view, coming from a chef’s background, I see both sides. I always think I’m a business person first before I’m a chef.”

What do you tell people to do when they visit our island? “Enjoy it, but respect it, many people work very hard to allow visitors to have incredible holidays. Get on the water, go for a swm, explore, try the food, there is so much choice here now. Have a wonderful holiday! “