The genius at the helm of the restaurant named Best Restaurant in the World in 2013 and 2015 returns to Madrid to take part in an edition of Madrid Fusión that addresses sustainability and circular gastronomy, concepts that are practically like second nature to this man from Girona. ‘If we don’t take care of the planet the ingredients in our natural pantry will run out. That’s the crux of it.’ That, plus innovation and poetry, and working with growers and suppliers are the recipe for success that the three brothers are working on, together with knowing how to manage resources ‘if we don’t want to run out of everything.’
They always do this with ‘generosity, solidarity and a willingness to share’, ‘attitudes that pretty much go hand in hand with our profession.’
Joan Roca will be in Madrid with his sights set on the construction of a new Roca restaurant in Girona, a ‘normal restaurant, a mix of Can Roca and El Celler.’
With no opening date yet, ‘Normal – the name of the restaurant – aims to be a mirror of the normality that we all expect now, a place that is good value for money.’ We’ll find out more in the Madrid Fusión auditorium.
Good news. Restaurants in Catalonia are now serving dinner again. Are you happy?
Yes, I’m looking forward to working again with enthusiasm, renewed energy and great optimism.
How would you describe these months only working half of the day?
Firstly, with infinite gratitude to the local people who came and who filled the restaurant’s tables every day, happy to enjoy a gastronomic experience but, needless to say, also out of a spirit of solidarity for a sector that has been particularly hard hit by this pandemic.
What about the experience of Mas Marroch? Will you do it again this year? (At the start of the lockdown, the brothers transformed their banquet space into a restaurant serving emblematic dishes they have made over the years, which lasted from June to October).
Roca Mas Marroch is here to stay below the sustainable dome of our events space. Hand in hand with this – and when we can – we will also resume catering for events and banquets for both individuals and companies.
More projects: You’ve announced that you’ll be opening Normal in the centre of Girona, a casual restaurant with Eli Noya, one of the chefs at El Celler, as head chef. How’s it going?
It’s a restaurant that aims – above all – to offer good value for money. I can’t give you an opening date yet. We’re working with Andreu Carulla on the interior design and using materials from Roca Recicla, and with Eli we’re finishing the design of the dishes we’ll offer. It’ll be sort of like comfort food – flavoursome, spontaneous and seasonal – somewhere between our mother’s traditional cooking at Can Roca and the more intricate work of the cuisine at El Celler de Can Roca.
Does it reflect a particular moment?
I’d say that Normal aims to be a mirror of the normality we’re all waiting for. Until now, all our restaurant projects have had a biographical thread, the DNA of the Roca family. Normal expands this family and invokes something we’ve all experienced. Normal is like the corner shop, right on the street. Normal is the celebration of a feeling of universal belonging, of a re-appreciation of the beauty of the routines we have been robbed of, interrupted by the pandemic. Everything is based on good taste and ‘normal’ wines that Josep Roca has chosen.
You’ve also stated that ‘It’s a creative challenge.’ Can you give us a sneak peek of some of the dishes or food you’ll be serving?
Not yet. We’re still working on that...
I see. How are things going at Casa Cacao?
Things are on a roll. The Boutique Hotel is doing really well, and we’re selling chocolate online around the world.
You didn’t offer a delivery service at El Celler during the lockdown but you did at Can Roca. How did that go?
Brilliantly, and it’s still going well. It’s something positive that’s come out of the pandemic. That, and the new Roca Mas Marroch.
Would you say that delivery services for these kinds of eateries are here to stay?
For Can Roca, yes.
Your talk at Madrid Fusión 2021 is on the first day and it’s called 360 degrees/365 days. Can you tell us something about it?
Sustainability is at the heart of circular gastronomy. From the kitchen and dining room at El Celler de Can Roca we’ve taken a 360 degree look at the 365 days of the year, and we’re committed to life’s course and the cycles of life that surround us. Being in touch with the environment means that sustainability is not just about people’s health, but also society’s heath, and that of the economy, culture and the planet we inhabit. A culture of making the most of ingredients rather than a culture of waste. It’s about a major shift in attitudes. This philosophy has pushed us to set up new projects that are creative, bring about innovation and a focus on sustainability.
A message – that of sustainability – reaffirmed at El Celler, and one you have also highlighted during previous talks at Madrid Fusión. The restaurant industry must be sustainable or there won’t be one, right?
Absolutely. That question is actually a statement. Cooking in the future must start with a healthy planet. The most valuable gastronomic produce is natural in origin, whether it’s from animals or plants. If we don’t take care of the planet the ingredients in our natural pantry will run out. That’s the crux of it. The future of gastronomy is about the future of humanity; we have to rethink many things about how to manage our resources if we don’t want to run out of everything. We chefs accept this responsibility with generosity, solidarity and a willingness to share, attitudes that pretty much go hand in hand with our profession.