This month our member interview is with Chris and Eimear King who own and run Kristian’s Restaurant in Puerto del Carmen. We have to say what a delight it was to meet this lovely couple whose passion for excellent food and service and for Lanzarote is made so very clear in both their professional and personal attitude.

We would highly recommend this restaurant and would advise that you book in advance.

Firstly congratulations to you both on the birth of your second daughter Sofía just 8 weeks ago, a sister for two year old Isabel, Eimear you look great and already back at work ensuring everything is running well in your lovely restaurant. Can we ask about you and how you came to be in Lanzarote.
Chris. We have been here for 3 years and we knew that Lanzarote would be our final destination. When we first met I told Eimear my ambition would be to own and run a restaurant in Lanzarote, and here we are. We have lived and worked in many countries, 9 years ago we moved to Madrid, I have family there and the idea was that it would be for a couple of years to give us the opportunity to work and learn the Spanish language at the same time. Six years later we were still there, we both had very good jobs, I was working in a Michelin starred restaurant and the experience was excellent. It was hard to leave the family in Madrid, my two sisters and brother live there and at the time we had 2 nephews now 3, but we knew that the time had come to make the move to our dream destination. We had been holidaying twice a year in Lanzarote for over 15 years; we loved the island, the climate and the people and knew it suited our personalities. We had travelled to many other countries, and being in catering meant that many of our holidays were taken off season, so Lanzarote was the perfect destination for us and we knew at once that it was the right place for us.

LBRA. You have owned the restaurant for three years; it was already a restaurant when you took over have you made many changes?

Chris. Yes it had been a restaurant for a number of years and whilst trading well we felt that with our past experience, passion and drive we could move it into a new direction. Staff motivation was a key point as was the quality of the food. We soon found that due to demand we needed to increase the size of the seating area and this has now doubled in size and seats 45 covers. We also employed additional staff and increased the kitchen area.

LBRA. How would you describe the restaurant and the style of food?

Chris. We class it as a “Fine Dining Bistro” classically French but with a personal spin aimed at the English/Irish market, high quality cuisine but without the high-end prices. We have a number of signature dishes; Seafood Chowder, Shoulder of Lamb, Chicken Liver Pate and carry a range of items that due to popular demand are never of the menu, such as Pork Belly. We are extremely proud of our wine list and our staff are trained to know what wines to recommend to accompany our dishes, but we realise that in this day and age many people already have experience of what wines they prefer, but if they need help then we are happy to advise.

LBRA. How easy/hard was it for you to start the business and what are your roles now?

Chris. It took us over 18 months to find the right premises, we had a firm business plan and knew what we wanted in respect of location, size etc and we knew that patience and time would be needed to fulfil our needs. Once we found the premises it was relatively easy, we are both able to speak some Spanish and found the actually business set up manageable; it was the legal side that we found more difficult and time consuming. I had been a chef for 26 years so my role is as Head Chef. I do feel it is important that as Head Chef I take time to go into the restaurant and talk to our guests, I enjoy listening to their views on the menu and food and of course hearing their latest news. Long gone are the days when “Chef” would not move out of his kitchen domain. Complacency is not a word we use around here; you constantly have to produce in order to succeed.

Eimear. As Chris has said we had our business plan and were very clear of what we wanted in respect of venue, style of menu and costs etc. Being able to speak Spanish helped as did our experience of working in other countries. I am the Restaurant manager and as such my role is varied, as well as customer and staff care, I ensure that our high standards of service equal that of the quality of the food. We have lots of repeat customers and our aim is that they always leave us happy and contented, word of mouth is the greatest recommendation and it’s important that our guests enjoy their experience with us. Many of the guests return time after time and we keep in touch via facebook, our website and email. As you know I recently had our second child and we have been overwhelmed by the good wishes, cards and gifts that we have received from our guests, who we now consider our friends.

LBRA. Chris, you are chef, how different is it working and cooking in Lanzarote compared to other countries?
Chris. Being your own boss and it being your own project is different than working for someone else. I am happy to work as many hours as needed to ensure we run a successful business. At first I did find it difficult to locate and source numerous products, for instance we make our own bread and it was hard to find the right ingredients, it could take hours going from one supplier to the next, happily that seems to have changed and good quality products are now more readily available.

LBRA. You have recently published a cookery book can you tell us more about that? And can we ask what is your favourite dish that you like to cook.
Chris. The book really came about due to pressure from customers, time after time we were being asked what was in the dish, how was it prepared and could they have the recipe and why did I not write a book. So one day we thought well why not and the result is here. It’s an honest book which lists all the ingredients (no secret missing spices etc), the pictures are all our own, no professional photo shoot and lighting, and it includes details about our lives both before and in Lanzarote and a bit like this interview how we came to be here (Now he tells us we could have just copied the book!!) My favourite food to work with is fish; I was brought up in Ireland working on the family lobster boats, so for me it’s like a home from home.

LBRA. We know you have two little girls, and they both born here? How did you find the treatment, hospital care and settling into family life here?

Eimear. When I had Isabel 2 years ago it was of course a trip into the unknown, but I have to say the whole experience was very good, I had Isabel at Hospiten and the attention I received was excellent. My doctor had a very good attitude and he and I jokingly differed over my due date; I was convinced the baby would arrive in August but he insisted in would be September, I was hoping for an early birth as the restaurant was due to open at the end of August, of course he was correct, we opened the restaurant and 4 weeks later at the end of September I gave birth. Sofía was also born at Hospiten and again I was very happy with the care and attention we had. Family life is good, like any other family we have commitments with work, childcare etc but you would experience those wherever you live, Isabel has started Guarderia (nursery) and is very settled.

LBRA. What advice would you give to others particularly with young families planning to move here?

Eimear. Be prepared and ready for the move. Understand that this is a different place and things happen at a different pace, and tomorrow will always be another day. If you have 5 things to do accept that you will be lucky if you achieve more than one in one day.

LBRA. Now that you have established the restaurant do you have any further plans for expansion for changes, events etc.

Chris/Eimear. Not as such, we can never be complacent; in order to continue operating a successful business we have to continually strive for the best, and that means true commitment from the whole team. We can now cater for all celebrations, weddings, anniversary, birthday parties etc, and take pride in being a part of people’s enjoyment.

LBRA. Who cooks at home?

Chris/Eimear. One word Chris, Eimear laughs and says she is a hopeless cook, Chris is definitely the chef in the family.

LBRA. Favourite places to visit, and what do you enjoy doing when you have time off in Lanzarote.

Chris/Eimear. Famara is a firm favourite it reminds us of the beaches in Ireland, El Golfo, Playa Blanca Marina, the new Arrecife Marina, walking along the paseo in Playa Honda, and anywhere near the sea. We have recently joined the gym at Arrecife Marina so we are enjoying swimming and exercising there. The Cine 6D at the marina is brilliant and such good value, well worth a visit. We also enjoy eating out and trying new restaurants.

LBRA. Anything that would surprise people to learn about you?
Eimear. I have run the New York Marathon in aid of Autism, I have played soccer for Ireland in various counties including Minnesota.

Chris. Well I am a published author and have won many awards for cooking both as an individual and representing my county as part of the Ireland Team.

LBRA. Can you describe Lanzarote in 5 words?
Chris/Eimear. Beautiful, Tranquil, Home, Special and (Us) as a family with our two girls and our business, we are contented and happy.

Well we had better close the interview as the restaurant has now opened for the evening and Chris and Eimear are needed, there is a wonderful aroma of different food smells permeating the air, a lively buzz of chatter and we are hoping if we sit here long enough we may get offered a taster, what’s that you need the table, well that’s it we’re off! Seriously many thanks Chris and Eimear it’s been great to learn more about you and judging by the happy faces dining this evening all your hard work has paid off. If you would like a copy of Chris’s book then contact Chris or Eimear, it would make an ideal Christmas gift for anyone that enjoys cooking.

Kristian’s has seating inside as well as an outside terrace, and offers extra touches like soft wraps for diners eating outside should the evening turn chilly.
Kristian’s is open every evening except Thursdays
and we recommend that you book in advance.

Kristians Restaurant and Wine Bar
Calle Teide 8
Old Town
Puerto del Carmen Lanzarote
Tel: (0034) 657659217