El Celler de Can Roca has just been named the World’s Best Restaurant 2013. Swide met Jordi Roca, Pastry Chef, in February.
World’s Best Pastry Chef.
I met Jordi Roca at the Identità Golose International Conference in February, when he didn’t know yet that his family Restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Catalunya, would win the title of World’s Best Restaurant. With his brothers, Joan (Executive Chef) and Josep (sommelier), the Rocas scooped the prestigious award at the annual The World’s 50 Best Restaurants event in London. The event is staged by British magazine Restaurant and sponsored by Italian bottled water Acqua Panna and S.Pellegrino.
Jordi loves to talk about his job, and he does it with the poetry and whimsical images like a genius describing how it works behind the scenes. This is what he told me about his passion: desserts.
Jordi, can you describe to me your creative process?
Any idea can take me to create a dessert, for a while it was about perfumes, which showed me it was possible to translate something inedible into something edible. I was then obsessed with colours as inspiration, a dish all green, all orange… it’s nice to associate creations to emotions.
You just talked about perfumes: how important they are in a dessert creation?
When we taste food, we use all our senses. Perfumes are a big part of a food tasting experience. This link gave me the chance to play with them, to create a lot, to use smells as a tool to reach an aim, which is to make people feel, to give them emotion. For example, with the help of a perfume-maker we create this dessert “nube de limon”, lemon cloud, which holds a smell of childhood, a smell of biscuit with milk and lemon and is actually a dessert made with butter, bergamot, lemon juice – playful dessert.
“Playful”. Through this playful dimension that identifies so much with your creations, what do you want to communicate?
Well, before being playful the dessert needs to be good! I want people to like it, because sometimes I could lose my head in something I want to be fun but on the other hand, has no taste. I don’t want that. Of course, along with being good, I like people to have fun. That they can laugh just like when they hear a joke, that the dessert evokes emotions.
When did you realise you wanted to be a Pastry Chef?
Well, when I started to work with my brother, at 18, since I was the youngest I had to also serve as a waiter and I hated it. Then I realised chefs would leave the kitchen sooner than waiters, and that’s when I started to think about it as a career! [laughs]. Seriously, I fell in love with desserts being an assistant to a pastry chef, and never stopped since.
How is it to be the youngest in a family business?
On one level it’s nice as sometimes you have people who take care of you, who sometimes spoil you, but most of the time they don’t even “see” you, you know? They don’t realise you exist (in the kitchen). I think this gave me one more reason to affirm myself there and to make my personality strong so that they could really value me. It was good.
How does it work with the three of you? A new idea comes up and then… what?
When we create a new dish, whether it is salty or sweet, we all discuss it together. Sure, this causes a slight delay in creating new dishes, but because we process them together, analyse them thoroughly, it gives us more security once we put them in the menu.
Rocambolesc, your gelato shop near Celler de Can Roca: tell me about it.
It was my dream became true, I always loved gelato and I wanted to translate it into something accessible. It’s only a window on the Esseyer Street. It’s a fun place. We could have designed something minimalistic, something super edgy, that would look like a jewellery store but people would be a bit scared to enter. I wanted the opposite: that people would get in to figure out what we would sell, with curiosity, with willingness to discover what it was about.
What are your next projects for gelato?
We are trying new tastes. One of baked apples from a recipe of my Mother, one is a chocolate very intense but not too bitter, one sorbet with a lot of beta-carotene for the summer, so that makes you more prone to get tanned – very healthy, few calories, a good one.
Rocapan was a revolutionary tool: tell me about it.
The idea was to be able to give a reason to people to eat gelato in winter, too, here in Spain they don’t do it much. I don’t get it: they would order Coke with ice but not gelato… My idea was to provoke people, to make them curious: with the help of a designer we created a tool that would create a special shaped warm pastry to be filled with ice cream. We started it two months ago and it’s working very well.
Do you always work with other creative people for projects?
Often. I think being multi-disciplinary in this work is essential: we work with all sorts of creative professionals: designers, artists, painters, people who work in robotic engineering so that we reach the perfect level in order to give pleasure and sublimate the tasting experience.
(He laughs). I can’t say a lot as it’s still in its embryonic stage, but we are working on a bread dough-gelato that “breathes”. It’s alive, seriously. It’s a live element in a live dish. We are experimenting continuously, so as to bring a message of emotion.
Cover photo: Brambilla-Serrani
Tagged with: #CHEF INTERVIEW #FOOD TRENDS
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