The Roca brothers heat up the Arizona desert with their innovative cooking
The Valley of the Sun got even brighter last week as the world-renowned Roca brothers trekked into Phoenix as part of the 2016 BBVA-El Celler de Can Roca Tour.
The brothers — head chef Joan, pastry chef Jordi and sommelier Josep — dazzled BBVA Compass clients, select culinary students, radio show and TV hosts, and food writers alike throughout the week. The owners of El Celler de Can Roca, voted no. 1 on Restaurant Magazine’s World 50 Best Restaurants list in 2013 and 2015, hosted three dinners and a wine tasting for clients and prospects, and a master class for students at the Arizona Culinary Institute.
“The passion the Rocas have for what they do translates straight to the plate,” said BBVA Compass Phoenix CEO Brad Parker. “Our clients can see the innovation that is infused in every dish. The Roca brothers’ original ideas fall in line with the bank’s own thinking.”
Learning from the best
The Rocas kicked off their week in the desert with a master class for students at the Arizona Culinary Institute, showcasing dishes they would later include on the dinner menu for clients. After cooking demonstrations by both Joan and Jordi Roca, the aspiring chefs were able to ask questions, including one that would recur throughout the week from media and clients alike: “Why Phoenix?”
“We came here because we were interested in this southern zone of the U.S. and its ties with Mexico, and Latin cuisine in particular,” said Joan Roca during an interview with the Phoenix New Times. “We were also interested in that fusion that seems to occur along the southern parts of the U.S.”
“We came here because we were interested in this southern zone of the U.S. and its ties with Mexico, and Latin cuisine in particular.
Ten students from the culinary school also assisted in the dinners and two of those students — Lexie Cordle and Victoria Tan — were chosen to intern for four months at El Celler de Can Roca. The scholarship is sponsored by BBVA and is an all-expense paid internship that includes travel, accommodation and food.
Victoria Tan (second from the left) and Lexie Cordle (second from the right) pose with the famed Roca brothers after winning a scholarship that will send them to the brothers' El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain for a four month internship.
Arizona on a plate
The client dinners, all held at the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., offered a menu designed specifically for stops along the Rocas’ world travels.
The Phoenix-inspired portion of the twenty-course menu included Joan Roca’s dish of shrimp parmentier with mole of shrimp, phytoplankton sponge cake and crunchy shrimp legs, smoked with spices. The dish was plated on a plastic film over a bowl filled with smoke and spices. A small hole in the film allowed puffs of smoke to escape and permeate the room, which Joan said evoked Arizona smoke signals.
Pastry Chef Jordi Roca delighted diners at the end of each dinner with his Green Chromaticism dessert soup with Arizona-native ingredients like avocado, lime, and nopal (cactus). All dishes were paired with wines hand-selected by sommelier Josep Roca, some of which were showcased in his wine tasting demonstration for clients earlier in the week.
“The Rocas’ tour included cities like London, Hong Kong, San Francisco — and Phoenix,” Parker said in opening the first dinner. “Let that sink in. Phoenix. We’re excited that they chose us, and we’re excited to have them here.”
The BBVA–El Celler de Can Roca tour now continues in San Francisco before heading south to Santiago, Chile, for the final stop.
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