Josep Roca was in town last week, a surname that smacks of culinary legend that ought to set a peal of bells a-ringing.
One of the sibling trio behind El Celler de Can Roca, anointed the world’s best restaurant by Restaurant magazine in 2013 and 2015, Josep is the sommelier behind the renowned Catalan eatery; elder brother Joan – who knew he wanted to be a cook from the age of nine, according to Josep – leads the kitchen while younger bro Jordi takes charge of the desserts.
And what, exactly, was he doing in Argentina? Scouting out the sweet terroir on offer ahead of their second Roca ‘n Roll World tour, which takes in Buenos Aires this August. Hot ticket? You bet yo’ ass.
The BBVA-El Celler de Can Roca 2015 tour AKA The Cooking Tour Experience sets sail on August 1 at La Rural in Palermo, and will also dock at Miami, Birmingham and Houston in the US as well as Istanbul. That means the three Michelin-star, Girona-based mountain – known for its 14-course tasting menu, lengthy reservation list and impeccable service – is coming to Mohammed, so save that date now.
Each brother has respectively visited the lie of the three lands, checking out produce and meeting providers in a bid to pay culinary compliments to each host nation during the tour. Josep spent a week taking in Mendoza, as well as in Cafayate, Salta and the Quebrada de Humahuaca, Jujuy. Stopping by vineyards and coming face to face with farmers in the quest to find the perfect ingredients to pay tribute to Argentina’s cuisine when El Celler’s 40-strong team cooks up over 100,000 dishes in five weeks.
Of particular note is that the Rocas are extending their hand to 15 local culinary students, inviting them to cook on the Argentine leg. Two masterchefs in the making will then be chosen to work in the professional opportunity of a lifetime for four months at El Celler, forming part of an immense team that comprises 40 chefs, 25 waiting staff and five sommeliers taking care of 55 diners each night.
Launching this second tour at Colegiales’ Espacio Dolli run by domestic goddess Dolli Irigoyen, Josep said: “It’s good to leave our comfort zone of success behind, and convert that success into responsibility, the possibility of sharing messages and opportunity. We’ve been offered the chance to open lots of other restaurants around the world over the past 29 years but at the end of the day, we never have. This tour, however, allows us to close the restaurant for five weeks and see what else is out there in the world.”
El Celler de Can Roca is already familiar with local terroir, he added: “We’ve got four Argentine cooks at home, and one of them, Hernán Luchetti, is also one of our chefs.”