Come dine with us in the Soller Valley
Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin
on Sunday 16th August 2015
Photographs by Rachel Fox
Cartoon by Bibi
Holly and Piers have allowed themselves a two year window for adventure and a time for going ‘off piste’ in their successful careers. They are here in the Port of Soller with toddler Charlie and having the best time working through a master plan that is subject to revision as more exciting things develop. Holly and Piers met in London and bumped into one another in-between the third world adventures that Holly was in the middle of. Holly came from the rock and roll life of the British ‘Art Rock’ movement where dad was an acclaimed drummer. Holly was allowed to tour during school holidays with the band but apart from that it was school, family life and great parents.
There were no drumsticks for Holly but a burning desire to set right some of the unfairness of life and a focus on charitable works in the third world. She started a career with Christian Aid based in London and spent her days focusing on the needs of so many that were struggling and her nights enjoying life in the Capitol. After three years she woke up and knew that if she wanted to contribute to third world solutions she needed to get there, live with the people, eat their food and live their life. A one way ticket to Guatemala , living with a local family and developing a radio and TV station for local people as her project was her life for the next three years. This was the world of eating for protein and survival with three bowls of rice a day considered a treat.
A return to the UK came when her brother was diagnosed with leukemia and Holly’s family needed each others support through dark days. At that time her next career began as a Project Director with the McMillan Cancer Support Charity. Holly’s brother made a full recovery in time and Holly’s career with McMillan was one of the inspirations that took her through this tough part of her families life. This was also the time when cupid knocked on the door and Piers became more than a good friend.
Piers is a chef and the villas and private houses of Majorca are really enjoying his work this summer. His route here came via Sydney , Hong Kong and London learning his craft in restaurants owned by his father and Aunt. His culinary talents have taken him on tours with famous bands and other celebrities who paid a high premium to have their own personal chef. His ‘rock and roll’ life took him to places that most of us can only dream about and for a while it was the only place he wanted to be. His ambitions eventually brought him to London where he was headhunted by Alison Price & Co and spent his years in Downing Street and many other prestigious places cooking fine food for those with the highest expectations. When he left that company to pursue his new life in Spain this is what they said of him. ‘Piers worked for Alison Price for 12 years. His passion and creativity within the kitchen earned him the position of Executive Sous Chef. If you’re looking for a chef to create beautifully presented and delicious food you’ve come to the right place. Piers will blow your guests away with his flavour combinations, his use of seasonal produce and his creative chinaware. Be it a dinner party for 10 or a reception for 100 Piers has the talent to give your guests that ultimate experience. Our loss at Alison Price and Company is your gain”.
The three bowls of rice a day Holly and the exquisite cuisine that Piers was used to cooking presented challenges to them in their early days. This was a meeting of opposite ends of the food spectrum and many hours were spent reconciling their very different life choices and the impact it has on their shopping, cooking and spending. Holly’s view is that if you live in the third world you have no choice of how you live. In the first world you have more choice and everything is plentiful but the responsibility regarding waste, recycling and sustainability remain with you. This is their compromise and the reality that allows them to eat the food that they can afford.
Piers and Holly were introduced to the Soller Valley by Piers mum who relocated here some ten years ago. Holly was brought to Soller one New Years Eve and couldn’t believe the life that people enjoyed here. The stunning countryside, the mountains, the sea, the village atmosphere, friendly people and the choice of locally produced food was an irresistible combination. They loved to visit and enjoyed this special place in the universe so much that they actually married in Soller and brought all their family with them to share the moment. Then it was back to London to their busy lives and all that entailed.
It was Charlie who changed everything and it’s all his fault that they are here living a Soller Valley life in the place where the Tramuntana meets the sea in the Port of Soller . Holly and Piers are very happy to be parents – more than delighted in fact and they wanted to be just that. They didn’t want to employ a Nanny or send Charlie to nursery in London full time so that they could pursue their working life of 12 – 15 hours each day. They decided to use the maternity leave and rethink their lives and what they wanted to do to include both of them spending as much time with Charlie as was possible. Where better to have this rethink than in Soller where this year a new business has been born ‘Piers Dawson Chef’ available for the discerning diner that wants this service at home or at their holiday villa.
Piers’ preferred method of cooking out here in Mallorca is in keeping with the Mediterranean lifestyle – creating a selection of sharing plates and platters for each meal, to pass around the table over a relaxed and leisurely lunch or dinner. Menu options can cover anything from canapés and bowl food to degustation menus. Piers creates all of his dishes from scratch (even the sourdough will be baked on the day!), combining local produce and rustic flavours for easy, enjoyable and relaxed dining in the beautiful surroundings of the Soller Valley.
Piers and Holly are almost six months into this adventure. They are having the best time and enjoying working hard to create their own business and being on hand to share it all with Charlie as he takes his first steps and speaks his first sentences – in Spanish! They are also delighted to put Charlie on the back of the bike to cycle down to the sea for a swim when it all gets too hot in the afternoon. They are working very hard to achieve the work life balance they aspired to in their relocation here. They know that success breeds success and the growth of their business is a question for the winter when they may not be quite so busy. They have spent the past 15 years planning and growing into their corporate careers so this time of thinking about the future of their own small business is a huge change of direction.
The focus for now is on ‘Piers Dawson Private Chef’ and early indications are that this is going to be a winner. The next charity part of Holly’s life is still waiting in the wings and could be very significant for Majorca . For the moment this great couple are living a great Soller Valley life and enjoying their baby but they are definitely a couple to watch as their dreams move on to the next stage.
Holly, Piers and Charlie are very welcome in our world.