IN CONVERSATION WITH
Mouji wears the MILAN NAVY OVERSIZED SHIRTand RIVELLO NAVY SILK TROUSER
You have an interesting background. Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing?
I was born in Tuscany and grew up in a commune between there and India. My parents were on a very spiritual path, doing a lot of meditation and often travelling to India. Due to my alternative upbringing, I didn't love school very much, and so I left home at a young age to start travelling the world.
You have experienced so much of the world. What made you finally settle in Ibiza?
I arrived to Ibiza after living in Goa, India. I had heard everyone talking about this magical island! I arrived here when I was 18 years old and one year later I met my husband, Amit. He is originally from Israel but had been living here on the island for a while. It was love at first sight, I completely fell in love with the island and him and I have never left since!
Your beautiful restaurant, La Paloma, was started by you and your family. How did the idea of opening a family-run restaurant come about?
It's a very long story, and quite a magical one too, I'll try make it as short as I can...
I was pregnant with our second child (we have three now), when I called up mum and asked her to come here and help me out with the kids. At the time, she was the chef of a very trendy restaurant in Milan and was ready for a change. When she first moved to Ibiza she worked in a local restaurant and when my baby was born we had no money and two small babies. We have no experience in this sector, expect for my mum who was always a very good and passionate cook. She has an inherent love for the best ingredients and always cooks from her heart - both traits she inherited from my grandmother.
"I think my style is quite simple and classic. Living in Ibiza, I love colour and a bit of a bohemian vibe, but never too much."
Mouji wears theNAVY MILAN OVERSIZED SHIRT
Mouji wears the MILAN SAND LINEN SHIRT (coming soon)
La Paloma is such a special place. How did you choose the location?
We came across the very beautiful place in San Lorenzo, which of course looked like nothing special then. But we could feel that there was something unique about the place. We painted every chair and table in light blue, which our friend and architect Rolph Blackstad suggested. It was the most economical way to transform the old and dark finca. Blackstad also had a dream about a white dove flying over the town, so he gave us the name and painted the sign with our logo. Everyone told us that we were crazy, because San Lorenzo wasn't even on the map! There is no bank, shop or pharmacy here. No one ever stopped here, except for dropping off the kids to school or to go to church. We were young and passionate about this dream, and with the help of our friends and a very low budget, we just decided to open the doors. Slowly we made the garden beautiful, fixed corners and before we knew it, it was been 16 years since we opened!! We could never have dreamed this place would become what it is today, we worked very hard and never took it for granted.
"We all need to recycle, re-use and re-educate ourselves and our children about what is going on in our planet. To learn that less is more and spread the message as much as we can. We all need to go back to leading a more simple life."
What are your favourite things to do on the island when you aren't working?
Spending time with my family! Restaurant life can be very demanding, so we try to be together when we have the time. I love swimming in the sea, going on a boat, and I also love to sing, so making music with friends is also one of my favourite things to do. There are so many beautiful places to explore on the island, when I can, I adore going to Formentera. It's the cherry on the cake about living here, being able to be in a completely different island with Carribean-like beaches, without having to get on a plane. Pack the kids in the car and in less than one hour, we are there - it's heaven!
We love that the restaurant has the feeling that you are eating in someone's garden, surrounded by beautiful orange and lemon groves. What made you
decide to go for this aesthetic for the restaurant?
It was easy, the garden was wild but so beautiful and full of citrus trees. We just had to work around that. Nature is the best inspiration, the world would look different today if we all followed nature a bit more! Instead of breaking and cutting trees to make space for tables around the trees, it's very simple.
The menu is simply mouth-watering! Does all the produce for the restaurant come straight from the garden?
I wish it did! But we would need half the island to cultivate that much. We are now in the process of making our organic vegetable garden, so we will have much more. We try to source all the rest locally and organically, but I would be lying if I said everything is. Honesty and transparency are important in this business. I can say, we really do our best to use our products that are local and organic.
Mouji wears the SANTANA SILK SHIRT DRESS
Mouji wears the SANTANA SILK SHIRT DRESS
Mouji wears the MILAN SAND LINEN SHIRT andLONDON SAND LINEN TROUSER(coming soon)
What are the must-have signature dishes at the restaurant?
At lunch it is the falafel salad and the homemade focaccia. At dinner, I would have to say the homemade pasta or any pasta really! My personal favourite is spaghetti alle vongole!
Mouji wears the IBIZA BROWN MOSAIC SILK DRESS
As a fond environmentalist, what are your major concerns in terms of how hospitality industry is polluting the planet?
This is actually a very dear subject to us, and we are working to become more and more green. Not only because I think it's the only way to go, but also to set an example. As a restaurant there is a lot we can do. And to all the hospitality industry I would say 'LESS GREED, MORE GREEN.' The fashion and hospitality industries have the power to influence people. As so many people pass through La Paloma for example, or follow it on social media. When people come to a place that they love, or buy a piece of clothing that they like, they will start following the brand's philosophy and will get inspired. That's why I think we have a very big responsibility here.
As a brand, we have been working hard to move towards using considered materials and environmentally conscious processes for our collections. From using recycled swim fabrics to organic linens. In what ways is the restaurant moving towards a more sustainable path?
We are in the process of making many changes in that direction. But of course this takes time, it isn't something easy to do over night, like breaking any bad habit. However, it's really only about changing the chip in our minds. We have managed to eliminate single use plastic, such as plastic bottles and straws from the front of house and we are working with our providers to help us do it also from the back of house. We also have plans to enlarge our vegetable garden. We have installed fat traps on our drains, so that we don't pollute the grounds with soaps and fats. We will install rain water collectors as well as a filtration system to clean the grey waters, in order to use less water for irrigation, especially on an island where water is a big problem. We are researching to find ecological industrial products (easy to do for a household but not for a restaurant, at leas not here!) We have also added 1 euro per table that goes to the Ibiza Preservation Fund (IPF) an organisation committed to environmental causes here on the island.
Mouji wears thePORTO ANTIQUE GOLD LINEN DRESS
"Nature is the best inspiration.
The world would look different today if we all followed nature a bit more! Instead of breaking and cutting trees to make space for tables, we put the tables around the trees,
it's very simple."
What advice would you give to people on how we could all cut back and live a more sustainable life?
We all need to recycle, re-use and re-educate ourselves and our children about what is going on on our planet. To learn that less is more and spread the green message as much as we can. We all need to go back to leading a more simple life.
What does confidence mean to you?
It means walking your path with truth and integrity. Doing what you love, and not being afraid of people's judgement. It also means being humble and recognising those moments we all have when we are not feeling confident at all. I don't believe we can always be confident, it's a feeling that comes and goes and if we allow ourselves to be true to that, we can only become a better person, and therefore more confident.
How would you describe your personal style? Do you have any style rules that you follow?
I think my style is quite simple and classic. Living in Ibiza, I love colour and a bit of a bohemian vibe, but never too much. I don't wear make up, I much prefer a natural and pared-back look. My only rule is "dress how you feel." I love beautiful things, precious fabrics and embroidery, and I love to mix these styles in how I dress. For instance, wearing sneakers with a beautiful elegant silk dress or a t-shirt with a long skirt.
Mouji wears the PORTO ANTIQUE GOLD LINEN DRESS
"There are so many beautiful places to explore on the island, when I can, I adore going to Formentera. It's the cherry on the cake about living here, being able to be in a completley different island with Carribbean-like beaches, without having to get on a plane."
Mouji wears the MILAN NAVY OVERSIZED SILK SHIRT and RIVELLO NAVY SILK TROUSER
What are your wardrobe staples and things that you wear in your day-to-day life?
I love to wear jeans, my simple Ibiza basket or a Colombian Mochila bag and mixing these up with vintage tops!
Can you tell us your favourite looks from the collection?
My absolute favourite are the linen pieces and the soft feel of all ASCENO looks. I also love to mix and match the bikini tops with linen trousers and an open shirt for relaxed days on the beach. It's very chic!
Mouji wears the IBIZA BROWN MOSAIC SILK DRESS
In the very beginning we were actually thinking of having a tapas place with only a few dished and sandwiches for the nearby school. My husband even thought of getting a bicycle and deliver them to the school - hilarious! The place has grown organically into what it is today. Sometimes one can have an idea of what we want to make, but it's always good to stay open minded and see where the flow takes you. Somehow people started showing up and loving the food and atmosphere, so we started opening for dinner and coming up with the Paloma Cafe lunch concept, together with another friend and chef.
Mouji wears the MILAN SAND OVERSIZED SILK SHIRT and ANTIBES SAND LINEN TROUSER (coming soon)
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