El Celler De Can Roca in Girona, Spain, has been crowned the World's Best Restaurant at The World's 50 Best Restaurants sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, ceremony for 2013. The restaurant, which is managed by the three Roca brothers, Joan, Josep and Jordi, was second on the list in 2012. The new announcement sees Rene Redzepi's Noma restaurant fall from the number one spot, a position it had held for the past three years. To read about the first ten on the list click here.
Crowds gave a standing ovation as the Roca's name was called with the brothers expressing their elation at the news. Opened in 1986 by Joan and Josep who had just finished culinary studies, El Celler De Can Roca was born as a natural progression for two siblings who had grown up inside their parents restaurant. The two brothers operated the restaurant until 1999 when the youngest sibling Jordi eventually joined the team. This completed a unique culinary team with Joan as chef, Josep as sommelier and Jordi bringing his own creativity as a pastry chef. It's in these roles that each brother learnt to perfect their own art, combining them perfectly to craft tasting menus that reflect a deep thought process in every choice of ingredient.
In 2007 the brothers built a custom restaurant with welcome garden, hall, dining rooms, ultra modern kitchen and a 200-square-meter wine cellar. Josep's now famous cellar features around 60,000 bottles of wine from all over the world with the most impressive asset being the middle brother's knowledge of each grape, grower and grain of soil used to house the vines. Guests at the restaurant often receive tours of the cellar where special stages are laid out to explain the deep process behind their choices of wines and how the wine sings in perfect harmony with the kitchen.
The Celler's first ever dish, created back in 1986, was hake with rosemary and garlic vinaigrette. A sign of things to come from Joan who would spend the next 25 years developing his own style of Catalan cuisine. A journey of discovery with a season spent at elBulli and Ferran Adria and a step into the ultra-modern world of molecular gastronomy. A journey that eventually saw Joan help develop the Roner - a piece of equipment for controlling the exact temperature of water and something now used throughout the world's best kitchens.
Today's tasting menus at the Celler are playful with a degree of theatre, a strong sense of heritage with constant links to the local area and its endless list of passionate Catalan producers. Candied olives delivered on an olive tree placed on the table, melting campari balls and interactive trips around the world. There's complex mains such as the now famous Iberian suckling pig. A dish that exemplifies the perfect pairing between kitchen and cellar. Pork perfectly cooked for 32 hours before the crackling is crisped and served alongside the aromas that make up a great Riesling wine. Mango, orange, melon and beetroot - Riesling deconstructed on the plate before its mixed in the mouth and paired with one of Josep's hand picked Rieslings.
Desserts are an event of their own at the restaurant with Jordi perfecting the art of taste, fun and theatre at the table. An apricot that's not apricot but instead a caramelized sugar blown copy of the real thing, special scents, intricate sugar shapes and designs - Jordi also delivers ice cream on a specially designed cart - dessert with a smile for the end of a meal. These menus are the work of 25-years. Time spent developing and devising elaborate foods and time spent acquiring the skills and knowledge to execute such cooking at the highest level.
The restaurant's history and heritage spans even more time. Today's announcement is the culmination of years of dedication and hard work, a strong family connection that makes up the very core of the restaurant. Even now, with reservations until the end of the year, the brothers still find time to eat with their mother every day - the women who taught them how to cook alongside their creative muse, grannie Angeleta.
There are three stones on every table at El Celler De Can Roca, placed there to signify the work of each brother, but in truth, there's more to the Celler's magic than Joan, Josep and Joan. There's family members that date back generations, wives, sons, daughters and a growing dedicated team of individuals who have slowly helped the restaurant rise to the very top - there just isn't enough space on the table for that many stones.