Sergi Arola was born in Roses, in the Catalonian province of Girona, in May of 1968. Coincidentally, Roses is the home of El Bulli, the remote restaurant where Arola’s mentor, Ferrán Adrià, got his start in 1983. Like many professional chefs, Arola’s love of food was fostered during his childhood, when at 12 years old he began cooking with his grandfather. But food was not his only passion. Sergi was also a budding musician with dreams of attaining rock stardom one day, and joined a band called “Los Canguro.” Hoping to parlay cooking into a side job, he attended culinary school in Barcelona in 1988.

After graduation, Sergi stayed in Barcelona for most of the early ‘90s, working at La Jijoneca in the heart of the city. In 1995, Sergi was contacted by Carles Abellan, an associate of Ferrán Adrià. Abellan asked Arola to come and work with one of Spain’s most celebrated chefs, an opportunity that would catapult Arola’s career into the upper echelons of Spanish fine dining. He joined the kitchen of El Taller in Barcelona, Ferrán’s culinary research center, learning and experimenting under the expert example of Adrià.

In 1997, Chef Arola left Barcelona for Madrid. In 2000, he embarked on opening his own restaurant. La Broche, located in the mezzanine level of the Hotel Miguel Angel, has gained worldwide attention since its inception, garnering 2 Michelin stars, as well as the National Gastronomy Prize. His second venture, the eponymous Arola, is located in Barcelona’s fashionable Hotel Arts, in the city’s Olympic Village. As opposed to the elaborate, high-concept cuisine of La Broche, Arola offers small plates of tapas and classic Mediterranean cooking.

The ambitious, hard-working Arola has also penned a cookbook, Cooking is Fun, which features signature recipes from La Broche, a technical glossary, and step-by-step picture instructions of culinary techniques. Barcelona-based publishing company Salsa Books published the book in 2004. At only 37 years old, Chef Arola has already achieved what many chefs strive to accomplish in a lifetime, yet he has no signs of stopping.

   Published: January 2006