Joan Roca is the star attraction at Colstoun
Barcelona beer brand Estrella Damm was joined by Chef Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca (Three Michelin Stars, World’s Number 1 restaurant for two years in The World’s 50 Best List and ranked number 2 in 2016!) in the gorgeous setting of Colstoun House outside of Edinburgh.
I joined some other media folk for a chat with Chef Roca and over a chilled Estrella, we asked questions and listened to his stories. I’d actually met him briefly once before, for a photo op at his restaurant, in Girona but this would be my first time quizzing him!
Q&A with Joan Roca
Where does your passion for food come from?
I grew up in my mother’s kitchen and was surrounded by delicious food and people who love it. My mother shared her love of food with me and I enjoyed it so much that I asked her to make me some chef’s whites when I was 10 years old! My mother is 82 years old and still an inspiration to me. In fact, I and the staff from El Celler de Can Roca visit my mother’s restaurant, Can Roca, for lunch every day.
What do you love about Scottish food?
The gastronomies of Scotland and Spain are very similar and connected. Both have excellent products from both the sea and land. What I really like about Scotland is the shellfish, scallops in particular. I am also a big fan of grouse and have used this at our restaurant in Girona. Using local produce is a must and when the produce is outstanding, it is easy to pick these and add to our menu. We have used Scottish Grouse at El Celler de Can Roca as it tastes beautiful.
There is immense pressure to keep your awards, does it stifle creativity?
Our main goal from the beginning wasn’t to be acknowledged and receive awards. This has, of course, helped consolidate the restaurant and put the area on the map, however, these awards won’t last forever. We enjoy being creative with our food and receiving the awards is a bonus.
Who are your culinary mentors?
Of course, my Mother has been a huge influence on me. I have also been influenced by Ferran Adria (El Bulli) and by French nouvelle cuisine style.
What is your favourite dish?
I love eating my mother’s Catalan stew called Escudela. It is the best in the world! Well, maybe not the best in the world but it is the dish she makes the best and for me, that is the best in the world.
If you weren’t a Chef, what would you be?
My other interest is architecture so I would have been an Architect. They are very similar gastronomy and architecture – both build things which must be useful, sustainable and nice.
After our chat, it was time to make our way to the main stage to see Joan Roca cook and to hear more about the gastronomic experience at El Celler de Can Roca. We watched as Joan effortlessly cooked a selection of dishes including veal steak with whisky (Macallan) which was served with edible candied wood(!), oysters with Albarino (white wine), Scottish grouse, razor clams and much more. Each dish looked astounding. I sat transfixed and gobsmacked at the skill and style. So much so that I didn’t think about taking better photos!
The creativity of the brothers (Joan Roca is the head chef, Josep Roca, the middle brother is the sommelier, and the youngest brother, Jordi Roca is in charge of desserts) shines through in their menu and we got to watch a video about the creation of the dessert “Messi’s Goal”. This dessert was made to encompass the feelings experienced when watching Lionel Messi score a goal for Barcelona. Brilliant!
After an open Q&A with Chef, it was time for some lunch and some more Estrella Damm beer. I could get quite used to afternoons like this!
Disclaimer: Thank you to Estrella Damm for this opportunity!
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