Girona-based El Celler de Can Roca, the family restaurant run by the 3 Roca Brothers, continues to be considered among the world’s very best places to eat by ‘Restaurant’ magazine. This publication gives the sector’s main international awards each year at a gala in London and announces the list of the world’s best 50 restaurants; this year’s gala took place on Monday evening. However, this year the Catalan establishment has not topped the ranking as it did in 2013 but has been considered the second best in this sort of cuisine Oscars, a recognition it had already obtained in 2012 and 2011. First place was for the Danish Noma - run by René Redzepi – which had already topped the ranking in 2012, 2011 and 2010. In addition, at the same gala the youngest Roca brother, Jordi, who is in charge of El Celler de Can Roca’s desserts, has been awarded the world’s best pastry chef, a title given for the first time this year. Since 2002, Catalan cuisine is has been sitting in cuisine’s Olympus thanks to the work of the Roca brothers and, originally, the genius of Ferran Adrià, who revolutionised gastronomy and whose restaurant El Bulli was considered the world’s best restaurant for 5 years. In fact, in the last 13 years, El Bulli or El Celler de Can Roca – both of them located in the Province of Girona – have topped the ranking on 6 occasions and the years they have not topped the list, one of them has been second or, once, third. The achievement is remarkable, since it means that in the last 9 years, a Catalan restaurant has topped the world’s ranking 5 times and the other 4 years it was in second place.
As in the 2012 ranking, René Redzepi’s Noma has been named the world’s best restaurant and the Roca brothers’ El Celler de Can Roca, the world’s second best. Last year, it was the other way round, but in 2014 the old positions are coming back. The Catalan establishment lost the top position, but it continues to be amongst the planet’s two best for the 4th year in a row, which is a great achievement.
Starting as a humble family restaurant run by their parents, Joan – the main Chef, Josep – the Sommelier, and Jordi – the pastry Chef revamped the place and managed to put their kitchen among the international cuisine stars. Year after year, this three- Michelin-star establishment was going up in the world ranking and in 2011 it was already considered the second best restaurant on the planet. Finally, in 2013 the Girona kitchen overtook Copenhagen’s Noma and El Celler de Can Roca reached the ranking’s top position.
“It’s like the Oscars”
Now, the positions have been switched again. A few days ago, in an interview with CNA, Joan Roca said that even if they did not win this year, they would always have their 2013 victory. “It’s like the Oscars […] you cannot win each year, but once you get one, you have it forever”, he said. However, Joan Roca was proud “to have done the homework” in the last 12 months in order “to be ready” to prove worthy of the top position again. In fact, the Roca brothers are hard workers who, despite having topped the ranking, have continued to run their family restaurant like a Swiss clock.
The 2013 recognition was a stimulus for them to foster creativity, since they have developed 62 new dishes in the last year. In addition, between the three of them they managed to combine the extremely demanding job of leading their restaurant with the task of offering 150 conferences in 19 different countries. In a press conference given on Monday morning, a few hours before the gala, the Roca brothers said they were proud of the job done and how they manage to combine this additional activity with the regular activity of El Celler de Can Roca without affecting the quality. For this they were taking advantage of closing days to travel, and sharing the extra tasks among the three of them. However, they were sorry they could not make room for all the 121,800 requests to book a table in their restaurant that they received in the last 365 days due to the limited space available. In the last year, El Celler de Can Roca hosted 22,680 clients and served some 340,000 dishes.
Jordi Roca becomes the world’s best pastry chef
The youngest of the 3 Roca brothers, Jordi, who is in charge of the family restaurant’s desserts, was recognised at Monday’s gala as the world’s best pastry chef. Jordi Roca’s creations are extremely original, combining textures, shapes, flavours, temperatures and even states of matter, including fluids, smoke and crunchy solids. Two years ago, he opened his own ice cream shop in downtown Girona, an establishment called Rocambolesc, where clients can taste extremely original frozen creations.
René Redzepi was trained in Catalonia by Ferran Adrià
Noma, based in an old warehouse at Copenhagen Port, has been awarded the world’s best restaurant for the fourth year since 2010. In that year it took the title of the best restaurant in the world from ‘El Bulli’, located in Catalonia’s Costa Brava and run by the Catalan chef Ferran Adrià.
In fact, René Redzepi was one of Adrià’s pupils in the Catalan chef’s restaurant in the Costa Brava town of Roses. For four years in a row, from 2006 to 2009, and also in 2002, El Bulli topped Restaurant Magazine’s ranking; and in 2010 it held second position. In 2011, El Bulli was no longer included in the ranking of the 50 best restaurants of the world because it announced it was closing its doors in July, after Ferran Adrià had been recognised as “the chef of the decade”. In fact, Adrià decided to close El Bulli to reopen it again transformed into the ‘El Bulli Foundation’, which will no longer be a regular restaurant but a research centre, exploring the links between food, arts and design.