Sommelier Josep Roca of El Celler de Can Roca - Biography

Girona, Spain

December 2010

Spanish Sommelier Josep Roca grew up in the kitchen. His family owned a bar that served classic Catalan cooking to a modest clientele. All three Roca brothers – Joan, Josep, and Jordi – eventually opened a restaurant annex to the bar, in 1986, and within a few years began collecting Michelin stars. In 2009 el Celler de Can Roca shot 21 spots to number five on San Pelligrino's Top 50 Restaurants list, and rose another spot this year. From its humble origins serving up plates of fried calamares in the 1960s, the family bar turned restaurant was this past year awarded its third Michelin star.

Josep Roca attended hotelier school before meeting winemaker and oenology professor Josep Lluis Perez Verdu, the Mas Martinet owner. Verdu would play a huge part in teaching him tabout wine. In the kitchen of el Celler de Can Roca, Joan (46) does savory, Josep (44) liquid, and Jordi (32) sweet. Together they view the dining experience as one intimately tied to all the senses. This culinary troika works as a seamless unit, with the end result that the restaurant has been deemed, by many Spaniards, the best restaurant in the country- pretty big words when we consider the competition.

The menu focuses on the principal trait of each dish, whether it be conceptual, chromatic, or evocative of “memory” (such as an uber-traditional pan amb tomate, turned on its head). Under Josep’s command as sommelier, the wine list has developed along five branches: Riesling, Champagne, Burgundy, Sherry, and Priorat (a Catalan denominated wine). Desserts compete in the global arena of the avant-garde, with Jordi's development of an edible perfume as the foundation in at least one example, the ode to Terre D’Hermès.

In 2003 the Roca brothers opened a second restaurant, Moo, in the chic Hotel Omm in Barcelona. Add to this another hotel restaurant Nurum, their kitchen laboratory el Taller, plus a catering business, banquet hall, and a summer offering at the annual Garden Festival in Cap Roig, and you’ll pardon the updated axiom, “three heads are better than one”.