You can't reach the top without effort, hard work, and passion. And these are precisely the values that have been championed by the team at El Celler de Can Roca for the last 30 years. Ever since Joan and Josep Roca opened their own restaurant alongside their parents' eatery in August 1986, they have not ceased in their pursuit of excellence and their total commitment to what they do: delivering a unique experience to everyone who takes a seat at one of their tables.
Every story has a beginning
Joan Roca and his brother Josep, when they were 22 and 20 respectively, decided to open a restaurant in the premises adjoining their parents' establishment, Can Roca, which today continues to be a reference in the working-class neighborhood of Taialà, in Girona. “Back then, we were very daring, brave and spontaneous”, remembers Joan.
Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca with iaia Angeleta at Can Roca, their parents' restaurant in which they have grown up
Whole evenings passed without a single diner, during which they played table football on a table that can still be seen in the restaurant. After spending a period at the restaurant Can Fabes –run by the late Santi Santamaría– and Ferran Adrià's El Bulli, in 1989 the eldest Roca created his carpaccio of pork trotters with wild boletus mushrooms, a dish that marked a turning point in the cuisine of El Celler de Can Roca.
“Back then, we were very daring, brave and spontaneous” — Joan Roca
In the early 1990s, Joan spent some time in France where he became interested in the culinary technique of vacuum cooking, in which he continues to work today.
In 1995, the restaurant, headed by Joan and Josep Roca, saw all its hard work rewarded when it won its first Michelin star.
Jordi Roca joins the family business
It was not until the youngest Roca brother went to work as an assistant to Damian Allsop in 1997 that he discovered his true passion in the world of desserts. “That was where I found my creative vocation”, says Jordi.
Since then, he has been the one responsible for desserts and sweets at El Celler de Can Roca, earning the respect of all his colleagues in the profession and the admiration of everyone who enjoys a good dessert.
Jordi Roca took more time than his brothers to find out his passion for desserts - Gaby Herbstein
Then came more Michelin stars…
In 2002, El Celler de Can Roca won its second Michelin star and consolidated its reputation as a benchmark for avant-garde cuisine. The three brothers proved that their complementary style worked, and worked well: Joan, in the world of savory dishes; Josep, in the liquid world and Jordi Roca, in desserts.
"The team is everything; without them we wouldn't get anywhere"
In 2007, they decided the time had come to separate their restaurant from that of their parents, and moved to Can Sunyer. Two years later came the third Michelin star. The key to their success probably resides in the values they apply in their everyday routine: dedication, hard work, passion, hospitality and generosity. The Roca brothers always say that El Celler de Can Roca is much more than Joan, Josep and Jordi: “Without the team we wouldn't get anywhere, and any success we may have had is thanks to them”, they constantly repeat.
In 2009, El Celler de Can Roca, run by the Roca brothers, received the third Michelin star
El Celler de Can Roca, the best restaurant in the world
Just when it might have seemed that there was little left for the Roca brothers to achieve, in 2013 the prestigious British publication Restaurant Magazine placed El Celler de Can Roca at the top of its world ranking, considered the Oscars of the gastronomic world.
In 2013, El Celler de Can Roca was named World's Best Restaurant by the prestigious British publication Restaurant Magazine
At the end of that year, BBVA and El Celler de Can Roca joined forces, united by their shared values –namely, responsibility, innovation, commitment, global reach, leadership and team spirit.
This was the start of an adventure that is now in its third year, and whose most important outcome has been the BBVA tours. El Celler de Can Roca has already traveled through six countries on three different continents, and is currently on its third gastronomic tour, which will add three more countries.
"They are genuine masters at combining first-rate creativity and innovation with our most deeply rooted traditions" — Felipe VI
In 2014, Jordi Roca was named by Restaurant Magazine as the best dessert chef in the world, and in 2015, after having ceded the leadership to the Danish restaurant Noma, El Celler de Can Roca was once again voted the best restaurant in the world.
In November last year, the Roca brothers were appointed Honorary Ambassadors of Marca España. This distinction was awarded by King Felipe VI to the eldest of the three in Ciudad BBVA: “The Roca brothers are genuine masters at combining first-rate creativity and innovation with our most deeply rooted traditions”.
The Roca brothers were appointed Honorary Ambassadors of Marca España - Gaby Herbstein
2016, a year to remember
In January this year, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) made Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca UN Goodwill Ambassadors. Since then, they have worked together on several projects that work towards the Sustainable Development Goals (ODS). “We have to achieve an environmentally sustainable, socially fair and economically inclusive food chain that guarantees access to food for everyone”, declared the middle Roca brother at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
In January this year, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) made Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca UN Goodwill Ambassadors - FREYA MORALES/ UNDP
In June, Joan Roca was voted best chef of the year by his colleagues in the profession during The World’s 50 Best annual event, and El Celler de Can Roca once again took its place on the world's gastronomic podium for the fifth consecutive year.
"When we opened the restaurant, we didn't think we were going to do anything very important" — Joan Roca
The Roca brothers' restaurant has changed people’s understanding of gastronomy. According to Joan: “The idea of the team, people, the emphasis on the human factor is the most important thing in El Celler de Can Roca”.
2016 is turning out to be a very special year for the Roca brothers –a year full of new projects that only add to a legend that has been 30 years in the making. “We know we opened in August 1986 but we don't remember the exact day; probably because we didn't think we were going to do anything very important”, admitted the eldest brother recently. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"El Celler de Can Roca is the story of three brothers passionate about gastronomy" — Joan Roca