Tomeu Arbona and the Fornet de la Soca. Presented by TUI. (Video lasts 6 min 41 sec.) | Video by Nova Producciones


There is a smell of freshly baked bread and numerous typical Mallorcan delicacies are lined up on the counter: ensaimadas with spicy sobrassada sausage and apricots, almond cake, chocolate coulant and the Mallorcan vegetable pizza 'coca de trampó'. A long queue of people forms in the colourfully tiled bakery. The sight of the carefully prepared pastry delights alone is enough to make your mouth water.

German television journalist Sibylle Tiessen and cameraman Agustí Torres join Mallorcan baker Tomeu Arbona at work. Photo: Patricia Lonzano

Anyone who visits the traditional Fornet de la Soca bakery in Palma's city centre is spoilt for choice. Tomeu Arbona stands behind the counter and welcomes his customers with a warm smile. Trained as a psychologist, Tomeu, originally from Fornalutx, opened Fornet de la Soca in 2010 as a way out of the financial crisis.

"I have always had a great passion for baked products and especially for traditional recipes," he explains. Together with his wife María José Orero, he took over the historic Forn del Teatre bakery on Plaça Weyler, which had previously been owned by another Mallorcan family. As part of the video series "The Mallorcans", sponsored by TUI and its TUI Care Foundation, the German TV journalist Sibylle Tiessen, followed Tomeu Arbona while he worked.

The antique furniture, the bright stained-glass windows and all the fragrant creations conjure up a special atmosphere. The Fornet de la Soca is a very special bakery. From the very beginning, Tomeu and his team have been committed to reviving the traditional Mallorcan art of baking.

Tomeu Arbona and his team prepare all the specialities themselves. Photo: Sibylle Tiessen

All specialities are based on traditional recipes. "Some I got from my mother and my aunts, other recipes come from historical records from monasteries and handwritten cookbooks, among other things. Mallorcan cuisine has a long tradition," he says. Using old records, Tomeu Arbona succeeded in reviving recipes that had almost been forgotten. His focus is primarily on savoury pastries.

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"Baked goods are often thought of as desserts, but there are also countless savoury creations." You can try 16 different empanada variations alone at Fornet de la Soca. The ingredients and fillings vary depending on the season. The hearty tartlet "Flaó" is also particularly popular. This speciality filled with ricotta cheese and mint comes from Ibiza and has its origins in the Middle Ages.

The Mallorcan mainly relies on local products. Photo: Sibylle Tiessen

The fact that some recipes have been forgotten over the years has to do with the tourism boom on the islands, Tomeu explains. Until the 1970s, people prepared more or less the same dishes. Everything that came from abroad was viewed rather critically. With the increase in tourism, however, gastronomy also changed. "Well-tried dishes disappeared from the menu and were replaced by international dishes such as pizza, hot dogs or burgers. But you have to show international visitors what Mallorcan cuisine has to offer," he says with a laugh.

In addition to traditional preparation, he also values local products. He works closely with farms and small farmers. The kitchen equipment, such as cutting boards, storage jars and measuring cups, also come from original Mallorcan households.

At Fornet de la Soca in Palma, there are many sweet and savoury Mallorcan specialities to discover. Photo: Sibylle Tiessen

A total of 18 people are now employed at Fornet de la Soca. Production and sales are handled at the same location. The concept has been successful. In recent years, Tomeu Arbona has received awards on several occasions, for example in 2019 as baker of the year in the "Ruta del Buen Pan" (Route of Good Bread) gastronomic tour.

When Tomeu and María José opened the bakery, it was initially located on Carrer de Sant Jaume. At the end of 2018, the shop moved to the Forn del Teatre on Plaça de Weyler. A second branch in the historic Can Corbella apartment building not far from the town hall square closed towards the end of last year. On the side, Tomeu Arbona and his team cook at events that focus on Mallorcan cuisine. The master baker explains: "We didn't want to go for quantity, but to preserve quality and tradition."

Cooperation with TUI

Support from the tourism industry: The project is sponsored by Europe’s leading tourism group TUI. The company focuses on the potential of the tourism sector as an engine for social development, education and prosperity. The company promotes sustainable tourism in cooperation with local people.