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Tradition and innovation combine at El Cellar

The recently crowned world’s best restaurant, Spain’s El Celler de Can Roca, bases its success on combining culinary traditions of Mediterranean people and continuous innovation and creativity.

Inspiration and innovation arise from various sources, such as the travels of the Roca brothers, owners of this restaurant, which was chosen early in June as the best in the world by British magazine “Restaurant.”


They had achieved this position in 2013, while in 2011, 2012 and 2014 the restaurant was second in the ranking of the best restaurants in the world.

The starter “the world” immerses the customer in the most authentic flavors of China, South Korea, Turkey, Morocco and Mexico, to continue with the next starters and dishes of equally intense flavors and thorough preparation and presentation.

Joan Roca, the chef, Josep Roca, the head of the room and the cellar and Jordi Roca, head of the sweet cuisine, founded this restaurant in 1986 in Girona, Catalonia, in northeast Spain.

“The most important thing is the flavor,” Joan Roca said, “the flavor is what connects with your memory, what remains when you leave, so many efforts are directed to get very pure flavors, very authentic, very intense.”

This is the feeling that emerges from the “Green olive’s ice cream,” which with the shape of an olive, “hangs” from the branches of a bonsai. Thus, the tradition of the olive-tree and its fruit, characteristic of the Mediterranean flora, converges with creativity, aesthetics and the achievement of an intense and pure flavor.

According to Joan Roca, the restaurant’s cuisine is a combination of traditional cuisine, prepared with mainly indigenous and local products, creativity and innovation.

“We are creative, but also very respectful of tradition and classic recipes that have given name and also importance to this region from a gastronomic point of view,” Roca said.

Innovation and research come together also in a “Masia,” typical rural house in Catalonia, located a few meters from the restaurant.

There “you can find people working on thinking and developing ideas, training part of our team and working on projects,” Roca said, noting that this laboratory is an important part of the restaurant.

These projects cover various topics, some of which are of social responsibility and allow Roca brothers to help young people at risk of exclusion, “affecting the society directly through cooking, or cultivating our organic gardens or recycling.”

To their customers, the Roca brothers offer a unique gastronomic experience. “Our work is ephemeral and only stays in our customer’s memory,” he said, “we want the client to live a special dining experience ... because we know that is what will remain of our work.”

The so-called molecular cuisine helps them out on their purpose. It combines physics and chemistry to transform food. The starter “Campari bonbon” is a proof of it, and you have to eat carefully, as it melts in your mouth as soon as you touch it.

The menu of El Celler de Can Roca begins before the starter. The customer enjoys the relaxed atmosphere of its garden, and can also have the opportunity to visit the kitchen and see how the 40 cooks work.

Clients are then moved to a room of about 200 meters where up to 55 guests, attended by about 20 people, can taste the dishes.

To taste them, there is an 11-month waiting list, and Celler de Can Roca, there is and will be only one in the world.

“We want to be here, we believe the restaurant concept is linked to hospitality,” said Joan Roca, adding that “hospitality is a way to receive people in your house, we want to welcome people ourselves, which makes it very difficult to open other restaurants.”

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